Japanese beetles are notorious and known to feast on your plant’s leaves. You might be wondering-do Japanese beetles like hydrangeas?
If you have hydrangeas in your garden or are planning to grow them, here’s a bit of help your way. Read on to discover all you need to know about Japanese beetles and your hydrangeas, and some quick ways to tackle those pesky bugs.
Do Japanese Beetles Like Hydrangeas?
Japanese beetles, being an invasive species, like to feast on the leaves of many plants, including hydrangeas.
If their infestation is left unchecked, they can quickly cause irreparable damage to your plants, and prove to be even more difficult to tackle and get rid of.
Do Japanese Beetles Eat Hydrangeas?
Japanese beetles feed on a lot of plants, including hydrangeas. The larvae in specific, feed on the roots of grasses and other plants, while the adult beetles thrive on leaves, flowers, and fruits.
These bugs particularly enjoy eating the attractive foliage of hydrangeas, which, if left unattended, can quickly put all your efforts to waste.
The beetles skeletonize foliage of plants by eating all of the soft tissue between the veins of leaves and relishing flower petals and buds.
Keeping these pests in check is important to ensure healthy growth of your hydrangeas throughout the growing season.
Recommended Read: Where Do Japanese Beetles Go At Night?
How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles Eating Hydrangeas?
While Japanese beetles are a nuisance, there are some measures you can take to help protect your hydrangeas from them. It is important to note that the quicker you take action, the easier it will be to get rid of the beetles, and the better you will be able to protect your hydrangeas.
The easiest trick to protect your hydrangeas from the attack of Japanese beetles is to hand-pick the beetles off your plants early in the morning when they're still sluggish.
Japanese beetles tend to hide, and are usually sluggish during the later hours of the day, and the wee hours of the morning.
The beetles don’t bite, and you can use gardening gloves to protect your hands while you do this.
Using Beetle Traps
There are a lot of different beetle traps available commercially that you can put to use to attract the beetles away from your hydrangeas. These beetle traps use pheromones and capture the bugs before they can mate, and are quite effective.
Use of Beneficial Nematodes
The use of beneficial nematodes as a natural form of pest control is another effective strategy you could consider. The nematodes will attack and kill beetle larvae in the soil, which can be especially helpful if you have multiple infested hydrangea plants.
Using natural insecticides like neem oil or pyrethrin on your hydrangeas is an excellent way to offer them comprehensive protection against the beetles.
Use of Soapy Water
Handpicking the beetles from your plants and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water will effectively kill them, helping to reduce their numbers. Alternatively, you can spray some soapy water mixture on the plant to keep the beetles away.
You might also want to consider pruning off any infested branches or leaves to limit their spread and damage.
What Kind of Soap Kills Japanese Beetles?
If your garden is infested by Japanese beetles, and you’ve tried almost every approach out there, using a simple soapy water solution should help.
That said, hydrangeas, and a lot of other plants, can be sensitive, which is why choosing the right kind of soap is important to ensure that the plant doesn’t end up getting damaged in the process.
Most commercially available soaps contain harsh chemicals which can cause damage to the foliage and while they can drive the beetles away, they can also end up damaging your plant in the process.
If you really want to use a soapy water mixture for your hydrangeas, consider using a gentle soap like castile soap, which targets the Japanese beetles, but doesn’t end up harming your plants as much.
Another plus of using castile soap is the fact that it is biodegradable and environment friendly too- unlike most other soaps out there.
What Does Soapy Water Do to Japanese Beetles?
Soapy water works effectively against soft bodied pests, and kills them quickly by dissolving their exoskeleton. For other resistant and tougher pests, it acts when ingested.
When you spray a plant with a mixture of Dawn dish soap and water and the bug ends up ingesting it, the chemicals present in the mixture will kill them.
You can consider hand picking the beetles and dropping them in soapy water (which is the ideal scenario). The beetles will be unable to fly and will eventually die.
Is it Okay to Spray Plants with Soapy Water?
While using soapy water solution as an insecticide for your plants is a practice a lot of gardeners implement, it isn’t a healthy and ideal solution.
Most commercially available soap solutions, including Dawn, have high concentrations of chemicals that may be effective against pests, but also damage the delicate foliage of a lot of plants.
In addition, spraying the solution on your plants will leave behind a soapy residue, which can interfere with the plant’s photosynthesis, ultimately causing the plant to die.
If you are planning to use this solution once in a while, make sure you wash the foliage with a little water afterwards to allow the plant to ‘breathe.’
How Often Should I Spray my Plants with Soapy Water?
If you have a serious infestation that you want to tackle quickly, spraying the plant with a soapy solution once a week (until 4 weeks) is recommended.
If the infestation isn’t that intense, you can stick to using the solution once a month.
It is important to note that if you’re using soapy water for pest control, it is best to apply it early in the morning or late in the evening.
Doing this prevents sun-scorching and wilting of the foliage due to long exposure to sunlight after the plant has been sprayed.
Also remember not to use too much soap as this can burn leaves and at times, cause irreparable damage to the plant.
Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Japanese Beetles?
Dawn dish soap is incredibly popular, and if that’s what you have at hand, you might be tempted to use it to make a simple soapy water solution and use it to protect your hydrangeas from Japanese beetles.
Using it will actually damage your plant. Dawn dish soap is a detergent, and contains several abrasive ingredients which might be harmful for Japanese beetles and many other pests, but will also affect your plant at the same time.