3 ways to kill Japanese beetles – you won't believe the pantry staple solution

Want to get rid of Japanese beetles before they destroy your garden? Here's how

Japanese beetle sitting on top of a large pink flower
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Knowing how to kill Japanese beetles has never felt quite so timely. This plant pest has emerged again – and as ever – they have come out with a ferocious appetite. 

The insect is a rival of all summer garden ideas – and will devour almost anything with leaves – starting at the top of your plants and working their way down. And, as pest experts note, they are particularly notorious around flower bed areas and wounded fruit. 

However, treating this pesky creature doesn't need to be hard. Here's how to kill Japanese beetles – to preserve your garden throughout their favorite season. 

How to kill Japanese beetles – 3 expert methods for quick success

Japanese beetle sitting on top of a large pink flower

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Japanese beetles can be very difficult to get rid of, but with the right advice, you can keep them away from your flower bed ideas for good. However, each method comes with its pros and cons. Here are the solutions available so you can choose the one best for your garden. 

1. Insecticides

Melody Estes, a garden expert from The Project Girl (opens in new tab), recommends using insecticides [such as this one from Amazon (opens in new tab)] to kill Japanese beetles. 'This is the most effective way to control the beetle population,' she says. However, this powerful solution comes with a warning. 

Aside from being the most expensive solution, it is potentially harmful to pets and other animals that may accidentally come in contact with it in the garden. So, if you want to maintain a pet-friendly home, this insecticide solution may not be the best method for you. 

2. Traps 

You can use traps to catch Japanese beetles. Once you trap the insects, you can dispose of them in the trash in a sealed container or bury them deep underground where they won't be able to get out again. 

'This is very effective at reducing beetle populations, but it's not as effective as using insecticides because some of the beetles will still escape from the traps before you can dispose of them properly,' Melody says. 'Sometimes, even if you do everything right, some beetles will still manage to find their way out again later on down the line anyway.'

For traps to be effective, entomologist Mike Duncan from  Truly Nolen of America (opens in new tab) explains that you should only place your traps away from fragile areas. 'The best option is to have numerous traps spread out within a community (i.e., common areas) to attract them away from growing zones,' he says. 

3. Olive oil

Could the secret to getting rid of Japanese beetles be a pantry staple? A landscaper from Your Green Pal (opens in new tab), Douglas Dedrick, suggests so. 

'Believe it or not, olive oil is a great way to kill Japanese beetles. After only a few seconds of being covered in the oil, the beetles will die. By using a spray bottle with a little olive oil, you can quickly and efficiently kill Japanese beetles,' Douglas says. 

He suggests using a spray bottle with some olive oil to spray over any Japanese beetles in your garden – as he does when working on his client's landscapes.

Japanese beetle sitting on a leaf with holes

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Does dish soap kill Japanese beetles?

It is possible to make another homemade solution using soap, as Mike Duncan explains. 'Many use home remedies such as a mixture of a teaspoon of soap to a quart of water.' He suggests using a spray bottle to cover the insects in water and soap when they first appear on your plants. 

What home remedy can I use to get rid of Japanese beetles?

If you would rather stay away from powerful insecticides, you can still get rid of Japanese beetles using more organic products that you may already have in your home. The most famous of the options are olive oil, as recommended by Douglas –or dish soap.

Megan Slack
Megan Slack

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.