Japanese Beetles in Turf
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First reported in North America in 1916, the Japanese beetle now occurs in most of the eastern United States. About 1⁄2 inch long, Japanese beetles are a shiny, metallic green with coppery brown wing covers that extend almost to the tip of the abdomen (Figure 1). Small tufts of white hairs occur at the tip of the abdomen and along each side. Eggs are translucent white to cream and elliptical and about 1⁄16 inch in diameter when first laid. In a few days, the egg becomes more spherical and doubles in size. Grubs are white, slightly curled and have yellow-brown heads. Grubs are about 1 inch long when mature. Unlike other grubs found in turf, it has two rows of spines which form a "V" on the underside of the last abdominal segment. The pupa is approximately 1⁄2 inch long and 1⁄4 inch wide, and it gradually turns light brown and then develops a metallic green cast.
Homeowners can take advantage of the beetles’ aggregation behavior by shaking plants to dislodge beetles each morning. Without beetles already on a plant, it is less likely that beetles will aggregate there later in the day. Picking beetles off by hand will also reduce the accumulation of beetles that results in severe damage. They can be easily knocked into a widemouth jar of soapy water. In some settings, flowers or plants can be protected with cheesecloth or other fine mesh.
Japanese beetle traps may catch up to 75% of the beetles that approach them. However, they are not control devices. Traps may lower beetle populations slightly, but only if placed throughout an entire neighborhood at very high density. This will not be enough to significantly reduce damage on your prized garden foliage. The trapped beetles must be emptied from the traps every one to two days to prevent them from rotting and releasing ammonia which is repellant to other Japanese beetles. The traps are much more effective in attracting Japanese beetles than in trapping them. Consequently, traps should be placed as far away from the plants to be protected as possible. If traps are used, place far away from susceptible plants. Traps alone are not likely to give satisfactory protection to plants being eaten by adult Japanese beetles and pesticides may be required anyway.
If insecticides are desired to protect plants in the landscape, there are a number of products available. For home use, carbaryl (Sevin), malathion, imidacloprid (Merit) are good choices. Many of the newer lawn and garden multi-insect products containing one of the pyrethrins are also effective. Pyrethrin containing chemicals are slightly more persistent. Sevin will protect foliage for about five days, weather permitting, so it would have to be reapplied. Pyrethroid based products may give up to two weeks of foliar protection per application. Spinosad and Neem based products are less effective, but are preferred by some gardeners seeking "softer" chemicals. Homemade concoctions and blended beetle cocktail repellants are slightly effective at best, and may need reapplication every one or two days.
Insecticide and Formulation
Amount per 1,000 sq ft
Precaution and Remarks
|B.t. subspecies galleriae (grubGoneG)||See label||100-150 lbs per acre|
|carbaryl* (Sevin) 80 WSP||3 oz|
|chlorantraniliprole (Acelepryn)||0.184 to 0.367 fl oz||Optimal control when applied at egg hatch. Use higher rates later in summer.|
|chlothianidin + bifenthrin (Aloft)||See label|
|chlothianidin + bifenthrin (Aloft) GC SC||0.27 to 0.54 fl oz|
|chlothianidin + bifenthrin (Aloft) LC SC||0.27 to 0.54 fl oz|
|chlothianidin + bifenthrin (Aloft) GC G||1.8 to 3.6 lb|
|chlothianidin + bifenthrin (Aloft) LC G||1.8 to 3.6 lb|
14 to 22 oz
0.15 to 0.22 oz
|Mole cricket suppression.|
|imidacloprid* (Merit) 75 WP||3 to 4 level tsp||Make application prior to egg hatch. (Offers some suppression of caterpillars.)|
60 to 80 lb/acre
12.7 to 17 oz/acre
|Optimum control when applied from peak flight of adults to peak of egg hatch. Also suppresses mole crickets and chinch bugs.|
|trichlorfon* (Dylox, Proxol) 80 SP||3.75 oz||Can be used with some success as a rescue treatment in August and September. Apply at egg hatch.|
|dinotefuran (Zylam) 20SG||1 oz per 1000 ft2|
- Japanese Beetle: A Homeowner's Handbook Anonymous. 2015. USDA, APHIS. 16 pp.
- Japanese Beetles in the Urban Landscape. Potter, M. R., D.A. Potter, and L.H. Townsend. 2006. Entomology at the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture.
- Japanese Beetle Management in Minnesota. Krischik, V. and D. Maser. 2005. Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota Extension Service FO-07664.
- White Grubs in Turf. Entomology Insect Notes. Brandenburg, R.L. 2002. NC State Extension Publications.
- 2018 Pest Control for Professional Turfgrass Managers. Bowman, D. et al. 2017. NC State Extension Publication AG-408. 81 pp.
- Extension Plant Pathology Publications and Factsheets
- Horticultural Science Publications
- North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual
For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center