5 things to do this August to have a naturally beetle-free garden next year

Hibiscus flower with Japanese beetle

It’s August and the time is here to be proactive and begin preparing your property for the garden you want to have next year. Beetle larvae will winter in your soil and emerge late-June until mid-July. Once they mature in your soil it’s too late once again so you need to get to work right now.

This process could take a couple of years, but eventually your soil will be larvae-free.  The beautiful flower and vegetable gardens you work so hard on will no longer have skeleton leaves and various bacteria carried by the Japanese beetle and cucumber beetles.

 5 Steps for beetle-free gardens

1. Destroy their winter home and food

The cucumber beetle larvae will survive the winter by feeding on the nutrients in the soil so don’t leave any plant matter in the garden beds. When you clean the garden out for the season don’t toss the plants into the compost pile. Throw them into a hot bonfire to burn up any larvae and the bacteria they carry.

2. Apply nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic worm-like organisms that live in soil and feed on larvae. They are naturally occurring so they pose no threat to people or animals. They can be purchased at your local nursery or garden center. All you do is mix them with water and apply them to your lawn and garden soil. Read the manufacturer’s packaging for more specific instructions. The nematodes will help rid you of both beetles.

3. Apply Milky Spore (bacterium Paenibacillus popillae)

This powdered bacteria called Paenibacillus popillae is lethal to Japanese beetles. It’s applied to the grass to kill the grubs before they can become beetles.  The powdered spore will leach into the soil when watered. The grubs will consume the organic matter infected by the spore, which kills them by turning their blood milky. To apply milky spore you place one teaspoon of the powder every four feet in a grid pattern, then water it for about 15 minutes.  The best time to apply it is mid-July to early August. Read the manufacturer’s packaging for more specific instructions.

4. Keep squishing beetles

A dead beetle won’t reproduce in your soil.

5. Talk to your neighbours

Spread your knowledge of natural pesticides to your neighbours as well so they don’t unknowingly reinfect your property with their beetles. Japanese beetles will travel kilometres to find their favourite leaves. Good neighbours are made by great fences and a shared love of dead beetles!

Hosta eaten by Japanese beetles

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