Controling Japanese Beetles

Some years I hardly notice them, while other years they are all over the place.  This year is a bad year for Japanese Beetles.  They are on everything.  I’ve seen them destroying beans, raspberries, grapes, and the zinnias.  How do you control them?

I don’t use chemical controls very often.  I’ve pulled out the sprayer once, and that was to use Garlic Barrier.  I do keep some diatomaceous earth on hand for cabbage worms.  Other than that, I don’t really use anything.  My go to method for most things is hand picking.  This year we’re hand picking Japanese Beetles.  Every morning we head out with a wide mouth pint mason jar half full of water with a squirt of dish soap.  We find a plant with some beetles on it and shake the beetles into the jar.  The beetles are more sluggish in the morning, so it’s the best time of day to do the collecting.

Another great thing I discovered this year is the zinnias.  Japanese Beetles love zinnias.  Usually it’s one flower in a cluster that gets attacked.  You just look for the destroyed leaves, and you usually find ten or more beetles.  This is really wonderful in the bean patch.  The beetles prefer the zinnias.  My beans are relatively untouched when there are zinnias nearby.  I find the Cut and Come Again Zinnia, Peppermint Stick Zinnia, and the Benary’s Giant Zinnia to do the best at trapping beetles, where as the Persian Carpet Zinnia seems to not do well at all.

Japanese Beetles on a Zinnia

I plan on planting zinnias with the beans from now on.  Every morning, it’s just a few short minutes walking from zinnia to zinnia to collect a lot of beetles.  What a beautiful way to control a bothersome pest.

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