Are Japanese beetles wreaking havoc in your garden? Concerned and wondering- do Japanese beetles eat tomato plants and other vegetable plants?
Here’s a quick guide to help you out. Read on to get a detailed overview about Japanese beetles, their inclination towards tomatoes and other vegetables, and some quick and actionable ways to keep them away from your garden.
Do Japanese Beetles Eat Tomato Plants?
Japanese beetles have been found to be particularly fond of fruits and vegetables, and if left unattended, they can have disastrous effects on plants such as tomatoes.
In fact, the larvae of Japanese beetles are known to bore into the fruit of tomato plants, causing them to rot from the inside out.
That said, they don’t only attack tomato plants. If they are in a garden, you’ll be more likely to find them around beans, roses, grapes, morning glories and some other plants.
Do Japanese Beetles Like Vegetables?
These little pests are known for their love of all things green, and they're not picky about what they eat. Whether it's a rose bush or a head of lettuce, Japanese beetles will happily munch away at your plants.
That said, while they're not choosy about what they eat, they do seem to have a preference for certain plants.
In particular, these beetles seem to enjoy eating beans, roses, and marigolds.
How Do I Detect Japanese Beetles in My Garden?
While the damage done by these beetles is clearly visible on the foliage- you’ll notice lacing and small holes in the leaves and flowers- that’s not all there is to worry about.
This damage occurs due to adult beetles, but it is the larva that you need to be worried about.
The grubs tend to attack the root system of your plants, leaving brown patches and causing a number of different plant problems.
Recommended Read: Where Do Japanese Beetles Go At Night?
How Do You Get Rid of Japanese Beetles on Tomato Plants?
Japanese beetles are among the most pesky little bugs that attack your plants- both ornamental and agricultural.
If you suspect that your tomato plants have been infested with Japanese beetles, there are a few steps you can take to get rid of them. Let’s dig a bit deeper and take a closer look at them.
Using Japanese Beetle Traps
Japanese beetle traps can be an effective way of controlling the pests in your garden. Their use is, however, highly debated, because they end up attracting more beetles- some of which are probably not already in your garden.
The traps work by attracting beetles to the bait, which is usually a pheromone, and they end up getting stuck in the sticky trap.
You can find a number of options available commercially, and using them in conjunction with any other of these methods can be really helpful in keeping Japanese beetles away from your plants.
Using Neem Oil
Neem oil is well known as a powerful natural insecticide and fungicide, and can be helpful for plants in more ways than one.
When applied to plants, the oil repels Japanese beetles and many other pests, preventing them from feeding on the leaves. In addition, neem oil disrupts the life cycle of insects, making it difficult for them to reproduce.
When applied to the soil, it can help tackle those pesky grubs, and also keep root rot at bay.
That said, you might want to exercise caution while using it, especially for certain sensitive plants. It always helps to do a quick check and confirm if the oil is suitable for your plant, and then proceed with using it fully.
Using Row Covers
One of the most effective ways to keep Japanese beetles away from your garden and plants is to use row covers.
Row covers are basically pieces of fabric that can be placed over rows of plants. They create a physical barrier that prevents insects from reaching the plants, but still allow sunlight and rain to pass through, making sure your plants get everything they need to thrive and flourish.
If you’re planning on using them, remember that you’ll need to be completely sure there are no existing beetle grubs in the soil. The row covers will need to be securely anchored around the edges to prevent beetles from crawling underneath.
If you have some pollinating plants in your garden, you’ll also need to be careful and remove the row covers periodically to allow for pollination.
When used correctly, they can effectively protect against Japanese beetles and other pests.
Recommended Read: Do Japanese Beetles Like Hydrangeas?
Apart from these techniques, there are quite a few additional steps you can take to keep Japanese beetles away from your garden.
- Handpicking the beetles whenever you spot them is a great option. You can wear gardening gloves if you’re not too keen on handling them with your bare hands- just pick them up and drop them in a bucket of water with a few drops of dish soap added in.
- Some gardeners believe that placing dead Japanese beetles around your plant will repel existing ones. You can use handpicked beetles, or the dead ones from your traps and give this technique a shot.
- Planting beneficial nematodes or inviting predators that eat Japanese bugs or their grubs can also be an excellent way to keep these bugs at bay. Birds like starlings and crows prefer the grubs, and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora actually hunt them down and kill them.
- Some gardeners also swear by planting trap crops as a method to keep Japanese beetles away. Plants like evening primrose, marigold and knotweed lure the beetles to one place, where you can manually remove them or use a bug vacuum to extract and get rid of them.
Remember that it is always best to take action against these beetles as quickly as you can. Not only will this help keep them from growing larger and multiplying, but will also reduce the damage to your plants.
Adult Japanese beetles tend to be aggressive and more difficult to tackle, which is why dealing with them as quickly as you can is highly recommended.