Japanese Beetles Decimating My Plants

It must be July.

This is the month when the Japanese Beetles swarm in, over and under all of my plants and make veritable skeletons where once there was beautiful green.

Japanese Beetles destroy Chinese Cabbage

Japanese beetles make lace with Chinese Cabbage.

My Chinese cabbage fell to the Japanese beetles but I am determined NOT to lose the battle over my green beans and my blackberry bushes.

Unfortunately, because the beetles are so bad this year, I have resorted to using my apple tree as a distraction.

Japanese Beetles eat my apple tree.

Every leaf on this apple tree is eaten.


And the Japanese beetles are attacking with a vengeance.  The leaves are being eaten on every branch.  I hate using the tree to attract the beetles but, as an organic gardener, I have to or I wouldn’t have a prayer of holding the line in my garden.

So, how do I kill the ones that make it into the garden and chew through leaves of just about any plant?  Well, it isn’t pretty but my method works and it is organic.

Every morning and every evening, I fill a small container with dishwater, grab my big spoon and head out to the garden.  I spend about 25 minutes smacking beetles into the bucket.

Drowning Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles to drown in dishwater.

When I’m done, I usually have between 100 and 150 beetles floating in the water.

Okay is sounds gross and the resulting “bucket of beetles” looks gross but it works.  And there is a perverse satisfaction in slapping them into the water, knowing their destructive activities are over.

So, the battle continues and I have good and bad days relative to control but I don’t spray; I don’t give up and I do, eventually beat them back.

Volunteer sunflowers

Sunflowers make me smile.

And when I am feeling outnumbered or a bit down, I just look out my office door at  one of the hundred or more volunteer sunflowers that are in my garden and yard and smile.

And to make you smile, I am sharing a picture of my sister Meg, now known as Commander Colander Head, and I heading out to the blueberry patch to do battle with the vicious and varied invaders we call hornets.

This year I’ve got Bald-faced and European hornets and even hornets that look like bumblebees. And of course, there are honey bees, yellow jackets and genuine bumblebees.

So, when we go out to pick, we “suit up” – Tyvex suits are tucked into socks.  Muck shoes are worn and, if it’s really warm, nitrile gloves.

Blueberry picking around hornets

Meg and I do battle with hornets for blueberries.

The protective gear really does make it safer to pick.  And starting just as the sun cracks over the horizon also helps.

I’ve gotten about 85 quarts of blueberries this year and not one bite or one “fatality”, either human or bee!


12 responses to “Japanese Beetles Decimating My Plants

  1. Thanks for your post. Now we know what is attacking our bean plants.

    • Glad I could help. I hate them a whole lot and I almost relish bopping them on the heads and dropping them into soapy dishwater….

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  3. We get yellow jackets but (so far) only the occasional hornet (thank goodness–Tyvex suits?! yikes!!!) Be safe out there & thanks for going the extra mile (and then some) on organic! The pollinators thank you, too. 🙂

    • I actually got the Tyvex suits after being bitten by spiders last year. Got 6 bites while picking cherries and they were probably baby brown recluse….made a mess on my arms and chest and I didn’t even feel them biting. But I discovered that I do feel like Commander Colander in them – a bit safer! So I “suit up” when picking especially in the close quarters of my blueberry patch. And it makes quite a fashion statement, doesn’t it?

  4. I love this post and your comment about bopping the beetles on the head. Made me laugh. I’m going up the hill with my bucket of suds right now. Commander Colander…haha. Love it. Great stuff here.

    • Glad I made you laugh! This is a terrible year for the beetles and I feel like I am losing the battle but I am soldiering on — just trying to beat them off my green beans, blackberries and blueberries. I am sorry to say the cherry, apple and pluot trees are taking the brunt of the damage but I would need about 100 people with pots and colanders to even make a dent! Happy smacking, whacking and plopping!

  5. I’m so glad we don’t have anything like these pests in Australia.
    Those suits made me chuckle. I just can’t imagine trying to fight hornets for my blueberries in a suit of armour!

    • The only saving grace is that my neighbors are NOT up at 5AM…so I have no been sighted or reported! It is a get up but I feel a bit safer inside the suit as I am so outnumbered.

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