Alphabetical Plant Listing

Japanese Beetle

Popillia japonica

Host Plants

Japanese beetles are known to feed on a variety of plants, but they have some preferred host plants. Here are a few plants that Japanese beetles are particularly attracted to:

  1. Roses: Japanese beetles are known to be especially attracted to roses and can cause significant damage to the flowers and leaves.

  2. Grapes: Japanese beetles are also known to be attracted to grapes and can cause damage to both the leaves and the fruit.

  3. Fruit trees: Japanese beetles can cause significant damage to fruit trees, particularly cherry, peach, and plum trees.

  4. Birch trees: Birch trees are a common host plant for Japanese beetles, and the insects can cause significant damage to the leaves and bark.

  5. Cannas: Japanese beetles are attracted to the foliage and flowers of canna plants and can cause significant damage.

Regions impacted

Japanese beetles are not native to North America but were introduced from Japan in the early 1900s. They have since become established throughout much of the United States and Canada and are considered a significant agricultural and horticultural pest. Control measures are often necessary to minimize the damage caused by Japanese beetles.


Japanese beetles are a type of beetle that is known for its distinctive metallic green color and coppery brown wings. They are about 1/2 inch long (1 cm) and have a flattened oval-shaped body.

Japanese beetles have six legs and two antennae that are roughly half the length of their body. They are active during the day and are commonly found on plants and trees during the summer months.

Life Cycle

Japanese beetles have a life cycle that typically lasts one year. The life cycle can be divided into four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

  1. Egg stage: Japanese beetles begin their life cycle as small, white eggs that are laid in the soil in midsummer, typically in groups of 1-4 eggs. The eggs hatch in 8-10 days.

  2. Larva stage: The Japanese beetle larvae are white, C-shaped grubs that feed on the roots of grasses and other plants. The larvae typically feed for several months, overwintering in the soil, and continue feeding the following spring until they are fully grown.

  3. Pupa stage: In late spring, the mature Japanese beetle larvae pupate in the soil and emerge as adults after 2-4 weeks.

  4. Adult stage: Japanese beetles emerge from the soil as adults in midsummer, typically in late June or early July. The adults feed on the foliage, flowers, and fruit of a wide range of plants for 4-6 weeks before laying eggs in the soil and completing the life cycle.

The life cycle of Japanese beetles can vary depending on environmental conditions, such as temperature and moisture. In warmer climates, the life cycle may be shorter, while in cooler climates, it may take longer. It's important to understand the life cycle of Japanese beetles to effectively control their populations and minimize damage to plants and crops.

Damage and Detection

The adults feed on the foliage, flowers, and fruit of plants, while the larvae feed on the roots of grasses and other plants. Some signs of Japanese beetle damage include:

  • Skeletonized leaves: Japanese beetles feed on the tissue between the veins of leaves, leaving behind a lacy, skeletonized appearance.
  • Defoliation: Heavy feeding by Japanese beetles can result in the complete defoliation of plants.
  • Damaged fruit: Japanese beetles can also feed on the fruit of plants, leaving behind scars and blemishes.

To detect Japanese beetle damage, it's important to regularly inspect your plants for signs of feeding. If you notice a significant amount of damage, or if you see Japanese beetles on your plants, it's important to take action to control the population.

Prevention and Control

There are several methods for preventing and controlling Japanese beetles in your garden. Here are a few options:

  1. Handpicking: One effective method for controlling small populations of Japanese beetles is to physically remove them from your plants by hand. This can be time-consuming, but it can help to reduce the population if done regularly.

  2. Physical barriers: Consider using physical barriers, such as row covers, to protect your plants from Japanese beetles. This can be an effective method for preventing damage to vegetables and other crops.

  3. Pheromone traps: Pheromone traps can be used to lure adult Japanese beetles away from plants. However, be aware that these traps can actually attract more beetles to your garden or landscape, so use them with caution.

  4. Companion planting: Choose plants that are less attractive to Japanese beetles, such as plants that produce a strong odor or plants that are not preferred by pests. Some examples of plants that are less attractive to Japanese beetles include catnip, chives, garlic, nasturtium, or tansy.

  5. Timing of planting: Planting susceptible plants, such as roses and grapes, later in the season, after the adult beetles have emerged and started feeding, can help to reduce damage to the plants.

  6. Irrigation: Watering plants in the morning, rather than in the evening, can help to reduce the presence of Japanese beetles by keeping the foliage dry, which can make the plants less attractive to pests.

  7. Clean-up: Removing and destroying any infested plant material, such as leaves or stems, can help to reduce the population of Japanese beetles in the area and prevent them from laying eggs in the soil.

  8. Knockdown sprays: Using a water hose to knock adult Japanese beetles off plants and into a bucket of soapy water can be an effective control method. This can also help to reduce the population of beetles in the area.

  9. Neem oil: Neem oil is a natural insecticide that can help to repel and control Japanese beetles. It can be applied to the foliage of plants but should be used with caution as it can harm beneficial insects as well.

  10. Natural predators: Birds, such as crows, blue jays, and grackles, feed on adult Japanese beetles and can help to reduce their populations. 

  11. Parasites: Parasitic wasps, such as Tiphia vernalis, attack and lay eggs in adult Japanese beetles, killing them. The larvae of the wasps feed on the internal organs of the beetles and eventually pupate inside the beetle.

  12. Pathogens: Certain pathogens, such as fungi and bacteria, can infect and kill Japanese beetles and their larvae. Beauveria bassiana is a type of fungus that is effective against Japanese beetles, as it infects and kills both the adults and the larvae.

  13. Insecticides: There are a variety of insecticides available that can be used to control Japanese beetles. It's important to choose a product that is labeled for use on the plants you wish to protect and to follow the instructions carefully to ensure safe and effective use.

By implementing cultural control methods, you can make your landscape or garden less attractive to Japanese beetles, which can help to reduce their populations and minimize damage to plants. Additionally, cultural control methods are often considered a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to chemical insecticides. It's important to monitor your landscape or garden regularly for signs of Japanese beetles and to implement a combination of control methods, including physical control, biological control, and chemical control, if necessary, to effectively manage the pests.

Guide Information

David Hill, Sue Thompson, Flickr

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

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