How to Control Japanese Beetles


It is believed that the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica Newman) was brought into the United States in 1916 from Japan. The beetle has quickly spread and become a major pest. Adult beetles feed on several hundred varieties of plants and control efforts cost an estimated $460 million a year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The beetle grubs also cause widespread devastation to lawns and the roots of plants with their voracious feeding habits. Control can be obtained through diligent management efforts.

Step 1

Apply the nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora to lawns infested with the Japanese beetle grub. The nematodes will help to control the beetle grub. Purchase the nematodes at select garden centers or online. The nematodes will need to be mixed with water and applied to the grass using a pump garden sprayer. Follow the directions on the nematode container for application.

Step 2

Apply an approved pesticide known to be effective on grubs, such as imidacloprid or halofenozide pesticides, in June and July to lawns that show infestation. Follow the directions on the label for application. Water thoroughly after all pesticide applications.

Step 3

Pick adult Japanese beetles from the foliage of infected plants. Deposit the beetles into a mixture of 25 percent dish soap with 75 percent water to kill them. If the infestation is severe, hold a pan below the plant and gently shake the plant so the beetles fall into the soapy water and drown.

Step 4

Spray the foliage of plants infested with adult Japanese beetles with carbaryl, acephate, permethrin or cyfluthrin, which are approved pesticides known to be effective on adult Japanese beetles. Apply according to the directions on the pesticide label. Most applications will last between two to three weeks and then will need to be reapplied. Use a garden pump sprayer for applications.

Tips and Warnings

  • Check local state laws concerning which pesticides are legal to use in your state. Do not apply pesticides near any bodies of fresh water. Always read the pesticide label for application instructions and warnings.

Things You'll Need

  • Nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora
  • Garden pump sprayer
  • Imidacloprid or halofenozide pesticide
  • Dish soap
  • Pan
  • Carbaryl, acephate, permethrin or cyfluthrin pesticide


  • U.S. Department Of Agriculture: Managing the Japanese Beetle: A Homeowner's Handbook
  • Ohio State University: Control of Japanese Beetle Adults and Grubs
  • Kentucky College Of Agriculture: Japanese Beetles In The Urban Landscape

Who Can Help

  • Penn State College Of Agricultural Science: Japanese Beetle Control On Ornamental Plants
Keywords: Japanese beetle control, Japanese beetle grub control, killing Japanese beetles, killing Japanese beetle grubs

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.