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The Japanese Beetle: Everything you Wanted to Know

Updated on June 15, 2010

The Japanese Beetle is a small bug that looks fairly innocuous. However, it has come to be considered quite a pest in the United States due to the fact that it destroys plants on farms and in gardens. As a result, people who are interested in knowing more about the Japanese Beetle are often looking at ways to get rid of this pest from their lives. Despite this, the Japanese Beetle is actually quite an interesting bug and is something that you might want to learn more about just because trivia about the bug isn't something that everyone knows.

Identifying the Japanese Beetle

First things first; what are we talking about when we discuss the Japanese Beetle? It's that little shiny-colored bug that we often see in the summertime. The Japanese Beetle is about half an inch long (although size varies with location). Unlike most other beetles, it's not really an elongated bug. It is almost as big across as it is lengthwise so it's almost square in shape (as opposed to rectangular like most beetles). It's a very brightly colored bug with a shiny green body and copper-colored wings.

History of the Japanese Beetle

As the name suggests, this beetle is originally from Japan. It's not considered to be any sort of problem where it's from because it has natural enemies there that keep it under control. The reason that it's such a pest in the United States is because it's not native to the area. Historians believe that the beetle traveled to the United States in a shipment of iris flower bulbs that was sent here from Japan early in the twentieth century. The beetles were first reported in 1916 when they had already reproduced and multiplied.

Problems with the Japanese Beetle

Kids love the Japanese Beetle because it's a harmless bug that's beautiful in color. Adults aren't nearly so fond of the beetle because of the fact that it loves to live in lawns and destroy the plants that grow there. The most common complaint is from people who have rose gardens; the Japanese Beetle is notorious for ruining these plants. However, the beetle can be destructive to other types of plants as well.

Dealing with the Japanese Beetle Problem

If you find that you have problems with the Japanese Beetle in your garden, you have four basic options for removing the problem:

  • Remove them by hand. If you only have a few of these beetles then you can just pick them up (they're harmless to humans) and get rid of them. Most people crush them like they would any other bug. You can also immerse them in soapy water and then flush them down the toilet.
  • Pesticides. Whether you choose natural (organic) pesticides or chemical ones, they can be used to get rid of the Japanese Beetle. You will want to specifically seek out pesticides designed to kill off this bug as not all of them will be effective.
  • Purchase traps. Believe it or not there are traps available for those people who have a serious problem with the bugs. This generally isn't considered the best option but it's something you can ask about at your local lawn supplies store.
  • Prevention. The best method of treatment is to prevent the Japanese Beetle from taking refuge in your yard in the first place. The way to do this is to plant plants that are unattractive to the beetle (such as baby's breath, flowering dogwood or snapdragons) instead of things like roses that the Japanese Beetle will love.

Enjoying the Japanese Beetle

It's certainly true that the Japanese Beetle can be destructive to your lawn and plants. However, it's also a really neat beetle that only causes problems because it wasn't supposed to be here in the first place. Try to think of it kindly now that you know more about it.


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  • profile image


    3 years ago

    Hi Lindsay and Amy I really hope you reply even toguhh it has been 2 years since you've posted on here I'm so glad to have found this site. My name is Nichole and I am almost 23 years old, I have suffered with NDPH since I was 16. I was a Sophomore in high school, it was near the end of 2006 when I got sick with bronchitis and the flu and coughed and coughed and noticed I had a really terrible headache with it. Once the sickness went away I noticed that the migraine, that pain in my head that had been so foreign to me prior to this, had not gone away, and still has not to this day I had to be home schooled and quit all of my sports I was a part of My friends went on with their lives and forgot about me while I had a constant 24/7 pain that I could not get rid of no matter how hard I tried or how much it killed me, physically and mentally. We began with Chiropractors, decompression machines, adjustments, etc. I traveled hours to probably 20 different Chiropractors that all said that they knew what I had and exactly how to treat it. I've tried natural supplements, over the counter medications, 6 Occipital nerve blocks in the back of my head, massage, diets of no wheat, no gluten, no sugar, vegan only, all with no progress. My family understands the pain and how I can be ok one minute but then pick up something slightly too heavy, walk a little too fast, sit down a little too hard and I will have to be in my room with blankets over my windows and absolutely no sound because the pain is so unbearable. It is so frustrating because I too feel like a burden, like ok you have a headache so what? Why can't you stay out late or get up early or work long shifts or run around and be active? But it is so much more than a headache It's become a way of life and although I think I handle it well I know that deep down I am depressed and deeply saddened by it because anytime I stop to think about it or talk to anyone about it I cry instantly. Lindsay, I too have tried the things you have with no help and at Cleveland Clinic where they did my nerve blocks they told me about the program where you stay there for an amount of time. My option they told me about when staying there was a few weeks, they would put me on all these medications and steroid medications, have physical therapy and counseling as well. They also said the FDA would soon be approving the Botox injections, I'm sorry those did not help you either NDPH has altered my life drastically, I can't work as much, I can't run around and just be free, I can't take a full load of classes at a time Basically I just want to thank you for having this site Amy, it is really more helpful than you know, just knowing that I'm not the only one to suffer from this and that I'm not the only one that has this pain to think about every single second of every day Bless you and bless all your readers, may you all find relief from the pain -Nichole

  • profile image

    Bob Benton 

    6 years ago

    I just had to go to ER to have a japanese beetle removed from my ear. The pain was intensive when the beetle would claw or chew at my ear drum. The doctor could not get it out. Luckily, after a few minutes, the beetle crawled out on its own. I believe the light above the ER table drew it out. Now, I will wear ear plugs before picking apples from an infested tree.

  • profile image

    Holly Mann 

    7 years ago

    These critters are mean. One accidentally hit my ear in midflight, quickly burrowed down my ear canal and chewed up the inside of my ear before 2 doctor and 2 doctor's office attempts got it out an hour later. Worst pain of my life!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A Johnson 

    7 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    I did some research on this pest and discovered that it doesn't like garlic. I planted garlic bulbs all over my garden. They're just starting to pop up so I'll have to fill you in later to see if it actually works.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    Good information here, I like the preventon method best.

  • CennyWenny profile image


    10 years ago from Washington

    Thanks for this Hub, very infomative! Unfortunately they are so bad in my yard they killed a tree (began before we bought the house) and have eaten about half of my garden. I don't like pesticides but I had no choice. This Hub has helped me to understand them better, thanks!


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