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How to Stop Japanese Beetles From Attacking Your Trees and Shrubs

By Allyn Paul, filed under Home & Lawn Insects, Landscape Tips.



The Japanese Beetle, a.k.a “June Bug” is out in full force throughout the Midwest causing damage to young trees and tender shrubs. Every morning before work, I take a walk around my yard and inspect and enjoy my lawn, trees, shrubs and flowers. I do this, first off, because I am a fanatic, secondly, because I enjoy my landscape and thirdly, and most importantly, because I want to ensure everything is in good health.
On Wednesday morning (July 9th) I took my morning stroll and noticed nothing out of the ordinary. But Thursday morning, I awoke to find…

Japanese Beetles up close

…Hundreds of Japanese beetles had infested the small river birch in my backyard and had already nearly defoliated the top 50% of the tree. Those Bastards!!!!!
I didn’t have any ornamental landscape insecticide handy, but I did have some general liquid insecticide available that I use to spray around my doors and windows to keep ants out. I used the spray to hit those little punks direct and was able to stave off the attack until I could get the right product and apply that evening.
Now I would NEVER recommend you use products on your trees and shrubs that are not designed or approved for that use. I am merely letting you know how serious this problem can become if left for more than 24 hrs.

In case you are wondering, Jap Beetles are the adult stage of that nasty grub worm that infests and destroys lawns in the late summer and fall. These little buggers are the “perfect storm of bugs” as they damage everything underground as well as high up in the trees.

I can usually judge how bad the Japanese Beetle problem will be in a given year based on how many of them end up drowned in my pool skimmer, and this year has been the worst in my unscientific records. If you live near a cornfield like I do, you will have an even bigger problem.
Jap Beetles are “skeltonizing insects,” meaning they eat all of the soft leaf tissue out from between the leaf veins. As you can imagine, this weakens the affected plant because a leaf with no surface area can’t photosynthesize properly, robbing the tree or shrub of sugars, eventually killing it.

Japanese Beetle Damage to River Birch




The best control for these Japanese beetle infestations is to use a product that works systemically, meaning the root system of the plant takes the product in, creating an effective “shield” when beetles attempt to feed. Bayer Advanced makes a great systemic control that you mix with water and pour around the root system of the most vulnerable trees and shrubs. However, if you have a case like mine where you need immediate control, Spectricide makes a product called “Immunox” that works well as a direct kill by spraying it on the leaves. It comes in premixed spray bottles, or you can buy concentrate and mix in a pump sprayer for bigger jobs.

I recommend buying the concentrate, mixing in a pump sprayer and covering the leaves on the top AND bottom throughout the hot months of summer. Three treatments of Immunox spaced 3 weeks apart should be sufficient… BUT READ THE LABEL before you go doing everything I say! Keep in mind that beetles will attack young trees first as they are more tender!

Another very effective control for Japanese Beetles is Talstar. It works well and can also be used on your other trees and shrubs as well as your lawn to kill ants, flease, mosquitoes, spiders and mites.

On a final note, those “beetle bags” you can get will do a great job of attracting, trapping and killing Japanese Beetles, but you have to wonder how many bites they take of your precious and expensive landscaping on their way to the party in the bag?!?! Those bags just might effectively create a block party of beetles, eating up everything in their path on their way to destruction in the bag as they die with a full stomach!

Here is a list of plants that are very susceptible to Japanese Beetle attacks.
1. American linden
2. Crabapple
3. Apple
4. Japanese maple
5. Norway maple
6. Rose
7. Crape myrtle
8. Pin oak
9. Birch
10. Purple Plum, Apricot, Cherry, Peach

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3 Responses to “How to Stop Japanese Beetles From Attacking Your Trees and Shrubs”

  1. Rose Of Sharon: Late Summer Flower Power! | Life and Lawns Says:
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    [...] of Sharon have very few problems from insects or fungus, however, in recent years I have found Japanese Beetles feeding on the flowers when no other host plants are near. Other than that, Sharon is low [...]

  2. Lawn Moths, Sod Webworms, and How to Control or Eliminate Them | Life and Lawns Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    [...] is Talstar. The great thing about Talstar is you can also use it on your trees and shrubs to kill Japanese Beetles and Bag Worms. It is a very versatile product that will kill any insect in your lawn and trees and [...]

  3. Big Bad Bag Worms and How to Kill Them | Life and Lawns Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    [...] lawn to kill spiders, ants, fleas mosquitoes and ticks in the process. It also works very well on Japanese Beetles, so paying a little extra for Talstar is worth it due its [...]

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