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Diggin' It

Another solution for controlling Japanese beetles

By / July 21, 2009

A Japanese beetle enjoys a lunch of purple coneflower.

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If you live where Japanese beetles are a problem, you know what a pain it is to try to control them. Last week, Lynn Hunt wrote about having some success spraying them with Windex! My husband thinks the best control is just picking them off by hand. I can't bring myself to do that, but I have to admit that, although time-consuming, it's effective.

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So I was especially interested when Noel Valdes of CobraHead weeding and cultivating tools suggested a new wrinkle on this -- one that captures the beetles but doesn't require touching the yucky things.

What usually happens with hand-picking beetles is that after they're plucked from the plant, they're dropped into a container of soapy water. Or, if you disturb the beetles, they tend to drop automatically, so you can sometimes accomplish the same thing by holding your container of soapy water underneath. (This doesn't always work; something the pests fly away instead of dropping.)

Noel's idea takes advantage of the dropping reaction, but funnels them into a container (sorta like a theme-park ride for Japanese beetles). It's cheap, easy, and quite effective, he says.

Here's a photo of his beetle catcher, made from a funnel, a jug, and some masking tape. You just "place the mouth of the funnel under the beetle(s) and tap down from above," he says. "The beetle's natural defense is to fall.  It hits the slippery slope and – one less beetle."

Thanks, Noel. Another weapon in our arsenal against this imported pest.

You may also want to consider growing plants that aren't favored by Japanese beetles. Here's a good list.

Editor’s note: Find lots more gardening at the main Monitor gardening page. Our blog archive. Our RSS feed.

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