How to Kill Japanese Beetles on Fruit Trees

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Apple tree
Apple tree (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Japanese beetles feed off fruit trees at every stage of their development: Larva eat plant roots beneath the ground and adult beetles consume leaves, fruit buds and maturing fruit. Thus, even a small number of Japanese beetles can cause serious damage to the immediate fruit harvest and long-term damage to the trees themselves. Use a homemade non-toxic bug spray to kill existing Japanese beetles and repel new fruit tree beetles before they develop into a full-grown infestation.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden sprayer
  • 1 1/2 gal. warm water
  • 3 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 squirts dish soap
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine the listed ingredients in a large garden sprayer and shake to mix.

Spray the mixture on all reachable leaves and fruit in the early morning to give the plants time to dry before dark. Spray the mixture directly on as many Japanese beetles as possible.

Repeat the spray procedure within 48 hours and again once per week until the beetles are gone.

Tips & Warnings

  • This mixture kills Japanese beetles as well as aphids because the dish soap weakens the exoskeleton, which the beetles cannot live without. Surviving beetles cannot continue to eat leaves and fruit treated with the spray because the pepper and garlic make them too hot to ingest.

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