Japanese Beetles can certainly cause a lot of damage to plants in a short amount of time. For us, I’m not sure if it was the warmer than normal winter – or it just happens to be one of those years, but they have come to our little farm this summer in numbers we have never quite seen before.

Natural Japanese Beetle Spray
The Japanese Beetles started appearing at the farm last week.

They first appeared about a week ago, when we noticed a few clinging to our ornamental grasses. Although they cause little to no harm to the grasses, by week’s end, they had found our rose bushes and the leaves of our grape vines in our mini-vineyard, carving out their characteristic Swiss cheese-like holes on the foliage of both.

We are adamant about keeping a chemical free setting at our farm – so grabbing the nearest commercial spray was simply not an option. Although insecticides would certainly be effective in killing off the beetles, there are 3 big reasons we won’t ever use them:

1)  We don’t want chemicals touching anything that we will ever eat – period.

2)  Insecticides are non-discriminatory, which means they also kill off many of the beneficial bugs and pollinators while they rid the plants of the intended target, and that would include the bees in our nearby beehives.

Natural Beetle Spray
Japanese beetles can quickly destroy a rose-bush

3)  When all of those other bugs disappear – the normal balance of nature can be completely altered, resulting in a whole new slew of insect problems that were being kept in check by all of those beneficial insects.

So with that said, we looked for a more natural alternative to the issue. 

The answer, quite amazingly and effectively, came in the form of an all natural Japanese beetle repellent spray made from Eastern Red Cedar soaked in water.

The recipe is simple to make – and I have to say, worked incredibly well in flushing the beetles instantly from the plants, and then deterring them from coming back.

All Natural Japanese Beetle Spray Recipe

To make our mixture, we used 6 to 8 small pieces of Eastern Red Cedar wood (about 4″ long x 2″ wide), and placed them in a 5 gallon bucket. Any smaller size will do, just be sure they fit into the bucket and can be covered by the water.

We then filled the bucket with hot water, adding a few teapots of boiling water to help initially bring the oils out of the wood. We let the mixture sit for about 36 hour to 48 hours – stirring the water up a few times in between. To keep the cedar wood from floating to the top, we placed a brick on top.

We then pulled out the wood, strained away any loose particles and poured into a pump sprayer. We applied the spray liberally to the leaves of the grapes in the vineyard as well as the rose bushes around the farm. In an instant, the beetles fled the leaves and began to drop off and fly away.

natural Japanese beetle spray
We used a brick to keep the wood submerged while it steeped in the water

We will continue to re-apply every few days or after any heavy rain in the coming weeks – and hopefully keep the beetles from destroying our precious grapes and roses. Not only will the method help to keep our plants healthy – it also keeps our bees and other beneficial insects alive and well!  Be sure to check out our 5 Natural Garden Spray Recipes for more ways to combat insects naturally.

Happy Gardening!  Jim and Mary

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