Overnight Disaster-Japanese Beetle Invasion

Hello folks! I hope this post finds you all well. The Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica) have been back for a while now, but they are getting ridiculous. Every year they come and feed mainly on the leaves of the Chinese Elms. They also eat the flowers on the roses. My plant tables next to and behind one of the sheds is under a Chinese Elm. It normally provides the perfect light for the potted plants, cactus, and succulents. The shade beds are also under a maple and two Chinese Elms. In that area, the light changes from shade to light shade.

Well, that is just nature. Until last year, there was really no problem. Then last year, the Japanese Beetle population turned into an invasion. I hoped that the colder than usual January would have helped control them and there wouldn’t be as many. But, that wasn’t the result. This year, they are worse than ever. Now, the Japanese Beetle lay eggs in the ground and then turn into their larvae stage. Then in June (maybe starting in late May), they become adults. Their main goal is to feed and mate.

They had really done no damage to the potted plants, mainly feeding on the leaves of the Chinese Elm. Then, on July 2 I noticed them on the Amorphophallus and a few on the Calla. So, I moved those two plants to the side porch.

Then, on July 4, it was much worse…


They attacked the Begonia ‘Frosty’ and even the Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae and Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross).




They are easy to get off. Just shake the plant they fly off.


The bowl I mix potting soil in had water in it and A LOT od drowned Japanese Beetles.


They attacked the Begonia ‘Brazilian Lady’…


And even the Bryophyllum daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands).


I went over to the Chinese Elm growing on the old back porch to get a photo, but they took off by the thousands!


They didn’t chew much on the Tradescantia sillamontana, but their leaves were covered in poop and debris from the elm tree.


I had to take all the plants off the longer table behind the shed and drag it (upsidedown) to the front porch. Then I took several wheelbarrow loads of plants…

The light here is not the best for some of the plants, either too much or not enough for some, but it will have to do for now. The beetles didn’t chew on all the plants I moved, but you never know. Not only that, they leave a big mess behind on the leaves from the elm tree. Fallen leaves and lots of poop. I watered the shade bed and the leaves of the Alocasia and Hosta were covered with poop and debris from the elm trees. So far they haven’t been feeding on them.


The Amorphophallus sp. is now safe on the side porch. Believe it or not, there are eleven Amorphophallus in this pot now… Up from two last year!


They had just chewed on a few leaves of the Calla, but I moved it to the side porch, too.

As far as the shade beds are concerned… It won’t be so shady now. Most of the plants will be OK except for maybe the Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’. Unless the beetles turn to the Hosta, Alocasia, and Heuchera.

I can see why the moles are so active in the yard in front of the chicken house and the shade beds. They are after the larvae… Spraying plants with neem oil doesn’t help fight against Japanese Beetles. About the only thing is to use milky spore which was developed by the USDA and applying it to the soil to kill their grubs.

You can read more about this crazy critter on the Wikipedia page by clicking HERE. Ther are thought to have come to the US on shipments of Iris bulbs from Japan before 1912… They have natural predators in Japan which keep them in control, but here and other countries they are now in, they have none… They feed on many plants besides the Chinese Elm, including many vegetables and other food crops and ornamentals.

Well, that’s it for this post. I hope you are all well and staying cool during the heat of the summer. Take care, stay well and be positive! Of course, GET DIRTY when you have the chance!

10 comments on “Overnight Disaster-Japanese Beetle Invasion

  1. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Oh dear, how very disappointing after all your hard work. Will they stay around until the weather gets cold, or is this a massive invasion that’s over reasonably quickly and gives the plants time to recover?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, Jane, I think its complicated… Once the beetles emerge from the soil as adults, they feed and mate. The female lays batches of only a few eggs then goes back to feeding and mating. This happens several times. There are factors that determine their lifespan. Females can live 17 to 105 days, but much less in the heat. Yesterday they were really active and today hardly at all. It’s like 90% of them flew off or died. There are a lot of dead leaves from the trees and even quite a few dead beetles today. I didn’t answer your question very well, huh? The plants will be OK. They grow new leaves. Well, for some, like the Amorphophallus, they only grow one set per year. Not sure what would happen if the whole top was gone. Thank goodness that isn’t the case and I moved them before that happened. Thanks for the comment as always! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. katechiconi says:

    It looks a lot like when we get a plague of grasshoppers. They sit in my acacia and eat it down to the leaf stalks, dropping the residue on the ground…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Kate! Oh, man! I can’t imagine what a plague of grasshoppers would be like. We have them bad enough, but I haven’t had much trouble with them since 2013 after I moved the Cannas. Cold winters kind of help keep them in check.
      Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim R says:

    Lots of those nasty beetles around here, too. Our neighbor’s Linden is being stripped from the top down.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bittster says:

    Oh wow. I think you’re taking this very well considering how many there are and how severe the damage is. Hopefully there’s an end in sight… Good luck!


    • Well, I always relied on the Chinese Elms behind the shed to give the “just right light” for the plants when I first moved them outside in the spring. Knowing that as the summer progressed many of their leaves would fall off or become “see-through”. That was OK because many of the plants eventually needed more light. The plants that still needed more shade I just moved to the other table. Plants that needed more sun were moved to still another table. The beetles just made it happen way to much faster then started snacking on the other plants. Luckily they don’t like the plants in the shade bed. However, as I did research, I found out their grubs to eat plant roots… The grubs are what the moles are after. It’s like a circle… Thanks for the comment as always!


  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    That is a lot of Japanese Beetles. UGH… I have a few in the garden. We spread Milky Spore and that seems to help. I think we missed a corner of the garden or else a few invaded. I hope that is all I find this year. I would faint if I found as many as you have here in my garden. How discouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Lisa! So, you use milky spore? Does it really deter the moles? I wonder how spreading it under the Elm trees would work? Then the south part of the yard, where there are hardly any trees at all, gets a lot of moles in the spring. Mowing is like riding in the rodeo. It’s like a big circle. To get rid of the moles you have to get rid of their food. LOL! This post is about Japanese Beetles now I am talking about moles. Thanks for the comment!


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