Summer is everyone’s favorite season, right? Soaking in the sun, trips to the beach..and the sound of June bugs hitting your window? If you’ve ever been hit by a June bug while enjoying a relaxing day on your deck or stumbled across one while gardening, you’ll know how annoying they are. The adult June bug is completely harmless to people. But it is unpleasant and can wreak havoc on your lawn if a June bug infestation takes hold. So how can you get rid of June bugs? And better yet, how can you prevent June bugs from becoming a problem in the first place?
There are a few simple steps you can take to address a June bug issue in your backyard space. From June bug traps to June bug repellent, work to prevent a few June beetles from becoming full on June bug infestations starts before you even see the first adult beetles.
How to Identify June Bugs
Before you begin to address a June bug infestation, you should be sure that the adult insects you are dealing with are actually June beetles. Luckily, once you know what you’re looking for, the June bug is hard to miss, and difficult to misidentify.
A member of the scarab beetle family, the June bug are also known as Japanese beetles. There are four common types of June bugs seen across the United States–an iridescent green, the green June beetle, the brown-and-white ten lined June beetle, and the brown chafer beetle.
The most common and easiest to recognize is the brown variety. June bugs are notably larger than other beetles you may commonly see around your home, spanning a half and inch to a full inch long. Adult beetles have wings they use to fly clumsily, which come together into a hard shell when not in flight. This shell is what makes the clattering noise you may associate with early summer to mid summer, while June bugs seem to be on an unending collision course to hit every surface around your home.
The Life Cycle of a June Bug
Despite their name, June bug’s life cycles begin before the summer months, and their adult activity spans from May until the end of July. While June bug season is thought to be in its height during the middle of summer, dying down once late summer ends, the “groundwork” for an infestation is laid in early spring and late spring.
The cycle begins in late spring and early summer when adult June bugs lay eggs in your lawn. From there, it takes only 18 days for June bug larvae to emerge from these eggs and begin to cause problems long before you ever see them. This is because once hatched, June bugs do not automatically become the adult bugs you see flying through the air on summer nights.
In fact, grubs can spend anywhere from one to three years underground. During this time, they go through molt phases, burrowing deep into the soil during winter and reactivating when weather warms and ground thaws. It is only at the end of this very long life cycle that the scarab family insects reach their adult form and begin menacing you above ground.
Do June bugs damage your lawn?
If you’re not bothered by the general presence of adult June bugs, then you may be wondering if there’s any reason to kill June bugs when you see them, or to attempt to reduce the June bug population in your yard. After all, if they’re not hurting you, how much damage could they be doing? The answer? Enough for most homeowners to take action because, yes, June bugs do damage your lawn.
While June bugs do not bite humans like other insects such as mosquitoes or other various insects, they are damaging pests that can destroy a healthy lawn fairly quickly. As adults, Japanese beetles chew the leaves of trees and shrubs such as rose bushes. But the real damage comes after larvae emerge and Japanese beetle grubs take hold. If you are struggling with patches of dead or dying grass, or have noticed that plant life around your yard is struggling, then June bugs may be to blame.
During the larvae and grub stages of their lifecycle, which take up to three years to complete, June bugs can do a lot of damage. As they grow, June bug grubs burrow and chew plant roots. This destroys the anchoring of your lawn. The result? Large patches of brown, dead grass that left from the ground in chunks. Damage will be most noticeable during late summer when the June bug grubs are most active. To identify the problem, lift the section of lawn. If June bugs are to blame, you will see white grubs. A large infestation could indicate thousands of June bugs at different stages of the reproduction cycle.
How to Get Rid of June Bugs
The answer to how to get rid of June bugs in your home is often simpler than you may think. Once you have identified adult June beetles on your property, you can take action to prevent them from becoming a larger, more damaging problem. From understanding the June bug’s life cycle, to understanding what attracts June bugs in the first place, you can eliminate them both at the larval stage, and as adult insects. The best part? You may not need commercial insecticide to do it.
Trap and Kill Adult June bugs first.
The easiest June bugs to remove are the ones that you can see. Removing the adult June bugs from your property will help to prevent female June bugs from laying more eggs in your lawn. To remove existing beetles, you will need to lay a June bug trap.
Water and Molasses Trap
As the old expression goes, you trap more flies with honey rather than vinegar! The same can be said for June bug predators. To effectively trap and drown adult June bugs, fill a narrow necked container like a milk jug or bottle with half a cup of molasses, and half a cup of hot water. Bury these traps near June beetle hot spots like rose bushes. Check the trap in morning hours to remove any drowned beetles, and refresh the solution as needed.
While insects like mosquitoes make a game to move fast enough to catch them mid flight, adult June beetles are slow moving and not particularly hard to get a hold of. To catch June bugs, wear gloves and walk your property slowly. Remove and get rid of June bugs you see on any plants or foliage around your yard.
If you don’t feel comfortable going the chemical route just yet, June beetles are also responsive to a number of natural insecticides. To make your own, non toxic insecticide mix a handful of minced garlic cloves with a tablespoon of mineral oil and let soak for at least 8 hours. Strain out the minced garlic and add the infused oil to a pint of water mixed with one teaspoon of dish soap. Place mixture into a pint sized spray bottle filled with plain water, and spray directly on insects or plants that June bugs eat.
Attract Natural Predators
One way to decrease pests in your yard in general is to increase the volume of natural predators in your outdoor space. For June beetles, this means encouraging more birds, frogs, toads, and even snakes. Of course, for those readers who don’t love creepy crawly creatures, this may not be the best route for you.
If all else fails, you can kill the adult June beetle using a chemical insecticide. These insecticides are readily available at garden centers and big box stores, but can also be purchased conveniently online at retailers such as Amazon. When using chemical insecticides, take care. These chemicals can be harmful to both humans and pets.
Get Rid of June Bug Larvae
Getting rid of June bugs is a two part battle. First, you can trap and kill the adult June beetles and prevent them from laying eggs. But to prevent a recurrence down the line, you need to address the larvae stage as well. Getting rid of grubs and larvae before they mature will help end the cycle. Not to mention, it will go a long way in getting rid of large brown patches that are caused by grubs as they go through the stages of maturing. These are steps you can take to eliminate June beetle larvae at the source.
Let The Grass Grow
June bugs love to lay their eggs in shorter grass. If you’re accustomed to a manicured lawn, consider letting it grow a bit more this year, especially during the mid summer season.
Looking for a solution that is not only non-toxic, but good for your lawn? Look at nematodes. Nematodes are tiny, microscopic soil worms that feed on larvae from a range of insects including the June beetle. There are many nematodes to choose from but June bugs respond best to species like Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.
Apply nematodes when grubs are most active during mid to late summer. Nematodes must be applied when grubs are active for best results. To apply, mix with a garden sprayer and apply to a wet lawn at dusk and then water thoroughly to flush the worms into the soil. Reapply annually for best results.
Milky Spores or Bacteria
Another natural solution, milky spores or Bacillus thuringiensis, is an effective way to control June bug larvae. This solution should be applied while grubs are active in mid to late summer. This approach tends to work better in warmer climates.
Chemical Insecticide & Neem Oil
If you need to address a serious infestation, help June bugs bite the dust with a chemical insecticide. Many of these products are made using neem oil. Neem oil kills many types of larvae effectively, but is preferred for its safe use around bees and ladybugs. Of course, if neem oil fails to address your large infestation, you may need to turn to a stronger solution such as pesticides.
If you are using a strong, curative chemical to address June bugs in your lawn, apply in late summer and water thoroughly. Take caution around children, pets, and other wildlife as many of these chemicals can be extremely toxic to more than just annoying bugs.
How To Get Rid of June Bugs? It’s simpler than you think.
Unlike some insect infestations, June beetles are fairly straightforward. To escape the yearly annoyance, first trap and dispose of adult beetles. Then, move on to destroying their damaging larvae. While chemical insecticides can be used in last resorts, most infestations can be addressed with more natural approaches such as insect traps, nematodes, and even the introduction of good bacteria.