Answer: Dealing with Japanese Beetles is a seasonal problem, but there is help out there. You don't need to stock up on traps and pesticides to control this destructive bug.
If you want to beat the Japanese beetle, try taking a natural approach. Catching them early and using scent as a weapon is a good deterrent. It's also natural and inexpensive.
First, take some precautions against Japanese Beetles. Japanese beetles are attracted to diseased plants and trees. The cleaner you keep your garden the better, particularly in June when the season is starting for them. Discard any rotting wood lying on the ground around your property (this is a good precaution against termites too), and trim back diseased branches and shrubbery. They are also attracted to dead or dying grass and rotting fruit, so make sure to maintain a healthy lawn, and keep the areas around fruit trees free of fallen fruit.
Deal with the problem early in the season. Emerging in the middle of June in many areas, Japanese beetles send out advanced scouts to pick the best feeding grounds. They scent mark good locations and other beetles interpret this as an invitation to move in. You can turn their heavy reliance on scent against them, though. Here's how.
Kill the first Japanese beetles you see in your garden. It's important that you catch them early, so keep watch for them, particularly around the second week in June. Fill a bucket with water to which you've added a quarter cup of dish soap, and dump the dead beetles into it. Set it in your garden in an area where you've had bad infestations before, or select a spot that gets good airflow.
In doing this, you are effectively warning new beetles, both scouts and beetles following scent markers, that this is a poor feeding ground. Leave the bucket in place for at least a couple of weeks. Don't worry about attracting mosquitoes. The soap will keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water.
Take advantage of plants that Japanese Beetles don't like
Rue planted with garlic is attractive in the garden and also works as an effective Japanese beetle deterrent. This dynamic duo should be planted together near areas where you've had the most problems with beetles in past seasons, like around your roses. Japanese beetles also avoid catnip and tansy.
You hear a lot about traps and natural predators as ways of controlling Japanese beetle infestations, but by far the best method is to avoid making your property attractive to them by using scent and plants that are unattractive to them.
If you discourage them early, Japanese beetles will pass on your garden in favor of a more enticing spot. Once entrenched somewhere else, they seldom come back to your garden in large numbers. If you start seeing an increase, kill a few more beetles and place them in another prepared bucket.
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