Bloom Thyme Friday: Meet the Beetles

NOTE: This is a post from 2020 but little has changed — those beetles are coming, are still horrid and we need to be ready!


Those destructive, nasty, no good, horrible Japanese beetles are here, so we might as well talk about them. 


The Japanese beetle is native to Japan. These little nuisances were first discovered in the United States around 1916 near Riverton, NJ in a nursery. It is thought that beetle larvae got into the US in a shipment of iris bulbs before inspections of imported goods entering the country began in 1912.

It is not just roses they love … they feed on around 200 species of plants.

Just look at my beautiful pole beans. 😩

I used to read that JBs were all east of the Mississippi, however, they are now being spotted in many other places around the country. I suspect they are still hitchhiking in plant containers! So no one will be safe before long. Now if only we could get them to “shelter in place” so we could eradicate them


Japanese Beetles are a real problem in my area, especially last year. I first saw them on June 21 and I was still seeing them in late August. Mark Nolen, past president of the Indianapolis Rose Society, who has been growing for 50 years and grows over 300 roses, counted them last year and his total count was over 5,000. Let’s hope that record is not broken this year!

My beautiful Quietness rose is one of their favorites. This happens so quickly!

Are you grossed out yet?

One of the very few upsides to drought is that it can interrupt their life cycle. After a particularly serious drought a few years ago, we had several years with few to no Japanese Beetles. I visualized the larvae being killed in the parched earth. Do you think differently of me now?



I have chosen not to spray them as the spray kills more than the targeted pest and we want to protect the good guys. I did try sprays many years ago but saw little help. Your call on that one. As always read labels carefully and protect yourself!


The best method of control I’ve found is “handpicking.” When I say handpicking I mean tapping the area where the beetles are on the shrub and watch them fall into a bucket of soapy water. When startled, it is their natural response to drop and get to the ground as fast as they can (procreation and all that) – so in the water they go. The recommendation is to start this daily regimen as soon as they arrive and get them off the plants as soon as possible. The damage and droppings they leave behind contain their pheromone – a call to all their friends to come! So, the more you have the more you get!! It is best to even cut away and destroy the damaged area on the shrub. If you’re in a stressful season- squishing them works too. However… I have heard that the squishing process releases the pheromone that calls in the JB troops. Your call. No judgment here!

I know. This is gross and you’d probably rather not see this. Last year I featured a better looking picture taken when I first started the bucket, not after all day. That article also included some great pictures of lilies which we probably won’t have this year due to the late freeze. Sad. So, maybe you should head over to last year’s article for a quick peek HERE…. BLOOMS, BUGS and HEAT.

Beetle Traps

There is great debate about using beetle traps. They do work and beetles by the thousands have found their way to the beetle traps my husband “loves” to use. He places them at the edge of property and is gleefully happy when the trap is full. Some say it helps control and some say it brings more in. Your call. We buy them at Lowes… good luck. Note: Since our beetle population is down a bit this year, we have not put out the traps. Mr. G agreed to wait and see how the season goes.


Many are trying biological means to control them in the larvae stage. I have a very large garden with a good size lawn and none of the biologicals out today (primarily nematodes and milky spore fungus) seem worth the effort. However, though it takes time, do some research – it might be worth your effort. 


Another unwanted pest in our garden is moles but they do eat grubs … so nature does have it’s ways. However, moles digging up your garden is a whole other horrible problem.  


Research is being done with Geranium petals as they cause temporary paralysis in Japanese Beetles – making them more vulnerable to their enemies. It’s a start and I bought 3 more hardy geraniums – just in case. The variety is ‘Dreamland’ and it’s very pretty. I’ve always loved geraniums – this just takes that love to the next level. 


If you have any tips and tricks that are working for you, please leave a comment so we can all benefit!


Finally, it’s time for something pretty! With all the talk about the JBs you are probably wondering if any blooms have escaped. Oddly enough they don’t love every flower… but we do!

I’m just crazy about daylilies.
The humble snapdragon. My children loved these.
Annabelle Hydrangea … a dependable, no rush hydrangea
I don’t know the variety, but I am loving this white Zinnia.
Simple pleasures: Phlox and daisies
My new dreamy Dreamland geranium
I love coneflower season! So many varieties available today!
Zaide and her neighbors have been attached but not all blooms have been destroyed!

With COVID and all, I went a little crazy with seed starting. It was mostly veggies. I had some great seed success and we gave some plants away but kept a lot of them. There are tomato plants in every nook and cranny we could find. Mr. G loves his tomatoes and we always have tomatoes on the driveway but NOT THIS MANY. Oh well, we will share, we’ll make salsa, we’ll make salads, we’ll have BLTs and we will eat tomatoes right off the vine! Oh, happy day. We also have several varieties of squash … most in pots. I am certainly looking forward to the cute little round zucchini – Ronde de Nice from Renee’s Garden. Our summer food will be interesting and yummy!

It’s been in the 🔥 90s 🔥 all week with another week of the same predicted.

friends, stay cool and safe and enjoy your garden thyme!

19 thoughts on “Bloom Thyme Friday: Meet the Beetles

  1. loved all may I use the photos in an article I am doing for Danville repulican on beetles?also want to quote you?   hugs Colletta

  2. Please share the name of that pink daylily in the photo above, if you know the name

  3. Definitely west of the Mississippi as we have them in Kansas. I saw my first one on about June 29th and haven’t seen many so lets hope it’s a light year.

  4. I have an infestation of the Japanese Beetles now. I handpick them early in the morning off of my roses and put them in the clear plastic sleeve from my morning newspaper. After I have gone around the roses and picked the beetles, I squish or stomp them with my shoe and place them in another bag and dispose of them in the trash. I do this several times during the day, and it seems the hotter it gets, the more beetles there are. I actually like most bugs, but not these beetles as they do so much damage to my roses and their leaves. If you want pretty roses, cut them very early in the morning and put them in water right away. I do leave a few damaged roses for the beetles. I am getting cucumbers and a few cherry tomatoes from my garden. Nothing so good as a fresh cucumber! Hope you planted some cucumbers. I really could do some fried green tomatoes as I have large green ones on the vine. Enjoyed seeing last year’s photos from Blooms, Bugs, and Heat. It felt like 100 degrees today (heat index) here in VA. We are now in Phase 03 in VA, but we are staying home. Happy Fourth of July! Early fireworks already started in my neighborhood. Quiet now though. I love gladiolus! Do you have those in your garden? Mine are two colors, just beautiful. They are perennials. Beautiful in flower arrangements. I have the orange double day lilies blooming now also. Just read that green is the color for 2020, Nature’s color.

  5. We are so fortunate that they are not a problem here. I do not know why they are not a problem. They may dislike the arid climates.

  6. Hi Teresa, My asiatic lilies never bloomed, turned brown, shriveled up and disappeared this year. You said you had a late freeze and you had trouble with yours. Will they come back next year?

    1. As I never remember a freeze this late, I just don’t know. I will let them die back as I would if they’d bloomed to hopefully feed the bulb for next year. However, I DO plan to buy more JUST IN CASE. I so love the Casa Blancas and miss have them this year. They were so lovely last year with huge blooms. 😩

  7. Teresa – So far in my new garden I don’t have any Japanese beetles – but in my old garden, which was out in the countryside – I used Milky Spore which worked wonderfully. It did not need to be refreshed every year.

    1. Hello, Francis’ blooms fall cleanly and I do not deadhead. My Francis is toward the back of my property so even as it fades it looks great from the distance and I enjoy it. Same with Peggy Martin. I hope you enjoy your Francis E. Lester rose! And, the story. Happy gardening.

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