Now is time to check for Japanese beetles in WNY gardens

Japanese beetle in Buffalo NY area
Japanese beetles are pretty, but they can cause a lot of damage. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Adult Japanese beetles are out and active, so now is the time to check to see if you have them in your garden, said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County.

He has spotted them in his own garden. Japanese beetles occurrences can be very local, so you may not have them in your own garden.

If you have them, you’ll know. It’s easy to see the beetles and to see the damage they do. They eat many different plants.

A good overall guide on dealing with Japanese beetles is Managing the Japanese Beetle: A Homeowner’s Handbook from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It includes information on traps, chemical pesticides and biological or organic pesticides. It also includes the best and worst plants for your garden when it comes to managing Japanese beetles.

There are many, many treatments available for Japanese beetles, Farfaglia said. Insecticides include Neem, which is organic, or Sevin, which contains carbaryl.

Don’t pick up any old insecticide; look and the label and make sure it says it will work on beetles. Local garden centers have knowledgeable staff– Ask them to help you choose the correct product.

Make sure you read and understand the directions on the label of the insecticide. Even though Neem is organic, it is toxic to bees and can contaminate water. Be very careful when using any insecticide.

But you don’t have to use insecticides, Farfaglia said. You can pick the Japanese beetles off your plants by hand and drop them into a dish of soapy water. This may be all you need to control damage to your plants.

If you have problems in your lawn with the larvae of Japanese beetles, see this information from Cornell about grubs in your lawn.

9 Comments on “Now is time to check for Japanese beetles in WNY gardens

  1. I knocked the beatles all off my basil into a dish of soapy water. Then i brought my pots of basil inside. They were also all over a 2 year old tree planted by the town in the space between the curb and sidewalk. So I sprayed a new product that indicated beetles don’t like it. It is Cedarcide, a concentrated solution you add to a hose-feed sprayer. I sprayed it all over the grass and gardens as directed. I changed the water in the birdbaths. Order it online for mosquitos and tics too. Says it is ok for pets, birds and pollinators. After 24 hours, no sign of the bugs yet. And there is a pleasant odor of cedar in the yard. We will see.

  2. I have been hand picking those buggers, or tap them into soapy water. I have used Neem on them also and I’ve had a good bloom this year.

  3. Does anyone have any good methods for controlling the Scarlett lily beetle?

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