It seems like they've always been showing up in the summertime to munch on plants and fly directly into your face, but Japanese beetles have only been seen in this country since 1916.

So, if you're older than 108, you may have a wonderful memory of a time when we were Japanese beetle-free...but I doubt it. I'm happy that we can say thanks to Japan for sushi and Pokémon, because I don't believe that Japan is getting a lot of kudos for Japanese beetles.

Japanese beetles start showing up in early to mid June in Southern Illinois, and now that we're into early July here in Northern Illinois, we're getting lots of them here, too.

But for how long, and what can we do to get rid of them?

Japanese Beetles Popillia japonica on fruit tree leaf.
They love dining with friends, or...(Getty Images)
Getty Images
...tearing up your plants solo. (Getty Images)

I Know, After Suffering Through (or not) The "Spring Of The Cicadas" You Probably Don't Want To Talk About Illinois' Bugs For A While----But Japanese Beetles Don't Really Care What You Want

For those needing a description, the Japanese beetle is an insect native to Asia that can fly up to 30 miles in a single day, and can lay as many as 500 eggs in one day, too. There's very little that a Japanese beetle loves more than destroying your beloved plants by chowing down on their leaves until there's very little left of the plant.

You may be a picky eater, but Japanese beetles most certainly are not.

Japanese beetles aggressively go after more than 300 different types of ornamental and agricultural plants, many of which are very popular in Illinois yards and gardens, and are even attracted by the scent of a damaged plant.

japanese beetles devouring a rose
Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images

Here's What Japanese Beetles Like, What They Hate, And What You Can Do To Get Rid Of Them

As I mentioned, there are over 300 plants that attract Japanese beetles, including but not limited to:

  • Fruit trees: apple, apricot, cherry, peach, plum
  • Soft fruits: berries, stone fruits, and grapes
  • Roses
  • Beans
  • Crab apple
  • Hibiscus
  • Japanese maple
  • Norway maple

And there are the things that Japanese beetles either hate or would prefer to avoid:

  • Geraniums
  • Lilacs
  • Chives
  • Catnip
  • Begonia
  • Magnolia
  • Impatiens
  • Moss roses
  • Garlic
  • Marigolds
  • Burning bush
  • Hosta
  • Violets
Two Japanese beetles cling to the blossom of a flowering bush.
Getty Images

There are a few ways to get rid of Japanese beetles, or at least make an effort toward doing so, but none are foolproof. Keep in mind that the life cycle of the Japanese beetle is about 6 weeks, so it's not like you'll have them around for months and months.

However, if you want to try to get rid of, or at least limit the population of Japanese beetles in your yard, you could try:

    • Picking them off of plants by hand. Get a bucket with some water and a little dishwashing detergent in it, pluck off the Japanese beetles and drop them in the bucket to drown.
    • Use a Japanese beetle trap. The downside is that the trap will attract far more Japanese beetles into your yard than you would have without the trap(s).
    • Pesticides. That can reduce the Japanese beetle population, but it will also reduce the populations of beneficial insects.
    • Insect netting over your tender plants. Pretty self-explanatory.

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Gallery Credit: Martha Sandoval

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