How to Kill the Green Fruit Beetle

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Green fruit beetles feed on ripe and rotting fruits.
Green fruit beetles feed on ripe and rotting fruits. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The green fruit beetle grows to about an inch-and-a-half long and has an iridescent green shine to its exoskeleton. Often mistaken for their smaller relative the Japanese beetle, green fruit beetles feed on fruit trees. These beetles most commonly attack mature or rotting fruits such as tomatoes, figs, peaches and plums, but they don't cause as much damage as Japanese beetles nor do their larvae harm the plants. If, however, it becomes necessary to control a population of green fruit beetles, there are ways to go about doing so.

Things You'll Need

  • Soapy water
  • Water
  • Plastic soda bottle
  • Grape juice
  • Fruit peels or pieces
  • Milky Spore bacterium

Remove all manure, leaf piles and lawn clippings from the area surrounding your fruit trees. These cool, damp areas attract adult green fruit beetles when they're ready to lay their eggs. Preventing adult beetles from laying eggs will reduce the number of grubs that grow into mature beetles.

Turn your compost pile frequently, if you have one, to expose any growing grubs. Remove grubs when you find them and drown them in soapy water.

Flood the affected area for at least two days to kill large grub populations. After flooding, ensure that proper drainage exists so the ground near your fruit trees will not remain damp enough to attract adult beetles back to the area to lay more eggs.

Harvest mature fruit frequently, and remove any rotting or fallen fruit as quickly as possible. By removing fruit as soon as it matures, you'll limit the green fruit beetle's food source, and you'll ensure that you get the most out of your harvest.

Build beetle traps by cutting the tops off plastic soda bottles and inverting them inside the remainder of the bottle to form a funnel. Fill the bottle with a few inches of grape juice and water, and add a few pieces of fruit or fruit peels. Hang the traps from affected trees to catch adult beetles.

Apply Paenibacillus popilliae bacterium, also called Milky Spore, to the ground around your fruit trees. This product was designed to kill the larvae of Japanese beetles, but it also may be effective against other grubs. One application of Milky Spore can last several years, and it doesn't harm plants, animals or beneficial insect populations.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because green fruit beetles and Japanese beetles look similar, establish for certain whether the beetles affecting your fruit trees are green fruit beetles or Japanese beetles. If they're Japanese beetles, you'll need to launch control methods immediately to prevent the beetles from becoming established in your area. Once established, adult Japanese beetles devour leaves, flowers and fruits, and the grubs feed on the roots of fruit trees and grasses that affect the plant's ability to draw water from the soil. Popular control methods for Japanese beetles include traps, commercial insecticides and the application of Paenibacillus popilliae bacterium, which is specifically designed to kill Japanese beetle grubs.
  • Commercial insecticides do little to harm adult green fruit beetles, so don't bother using them. Over-application of these substances will not only be ineffective but also may harm other animals and beneficial insects that populate your garden.

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