Use Dishsoap to Fight Beetles in the Garden

Posted on July 8, 2011 by Allie

This year, we’ve seen some mean green beetles around the yard (and making a meal of my beautiful apple trees!). Popillia japonica, otherwise known as the Japanese Beetle is non-indiginous to the U.S. and found along the east coast. These little buggers are frustrating, chewing big holes in leaves and fruit of plants in the garden. But there’s an easy way to reduce their numbers and protect your plants: Dish soap and a little manual labor.

I’ve been using a chemical sprayer filled attached to my hose. I fill it with a mix of dish soap and water and spray it on the affected plants. I also pick off any beetles I find and dispose of them. If you’re squeamish about touching the beetles (I didn’t think I would be, but I am), wear garden gloves and dispose of them in a plastic baggie. Make sure to seal the bag tightly and dispose of them so they cannot come back.

According to DK Mommy Spot, you can also add powdered garlic, cayenne pepper, and vegetable oil to the mix. Supposedly the garlic and pepper are deterrents, and the vegetable oil will coat and smother the beetles.

If you have smaller areas to cover, you can put the mixture in a spray bottle instead of a hose sprayer. Japanese Beetles are a real problem in the north east, and anything you can do to decrease their numbers is a help to everyone.

The good news is, when I went out this morning to take a beetle photo for you, I couldn’t find a single beetle!


  1. Thanks Allie! We have problems with the japanese beetles, too–they love my roses and zinnias. Time to teach ‘em a lesson–I’m trying this today!

    July 8th, 2011 at 9:19 am
    Comment by Erin Peters
  2. Another trick: my mom just cut up chunks of bar soap and put them around the perimeter of their garden to keep out mammalian invaders. She says it seems to be working!

    July 8th, 2011 at 9:29 am
    Comment by mickey
  3. Great tips, Allie! I can’t wait to start my garden when we move into our new house.

    July 9th, 2011 at 11:40 am
    Comment by Amy
  4. What sort of beetles? I have some flea beetles this year. They don’t really seem to be doing much damage, so I probably won’t do anything to control them. Soapy water certainly works well on aphids though.

    July 10th, 2011 at 10:37 am
    Comment by Vegetable Garden Cook
  5. Erin – Hope it works for you!
    Mickey – I will have to try that! Apparently, two German Shepherds aren’t a big enough bunny deterrent, because we still see them from time to time.
    Amy – Happy Gardening!
    VGC – We have Japanese beetles. They can get pretty destructive.

    July 10th, 2011 at 10:43 am
    Comment by Allie
  6. This is good to know, Allie! Those little beasties are second only to squirrels when it comes to lose of produce in my yard. I’ll try this tip today!

    July 10th, 2011 at 1:24 pm
    Comment by Deborah Adams

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