I Was Inviting Japanese Beetles to Flock to My Garden?

Thankfully, this is not what my roses look like yet. Right now they’re glorious–full and smelling like only roses can.

But I’m living in quiet dread, because this IS what my roses looked like a little further on in the season last year. Those shiny brown things in the picture at left? Those are Japanese Beetles.

Notice that not only are there too many to count, at least five pairs of them in the picture are in the process of making more Japanese Beetles. For the past few years I never find just one Japanese Beetle in my garden, I find a plague of them.

Which is why I was so excited to learn that geraniums might be the answer to keeping them under control. I’ve planted oodles of geraniums in my garden this year in case they do work.

But I’m still worried. The research didn’t specify how many geraniums you need per rosebush. Or how close they had to be. And what if the birds in my yard are so full from birdseed or the snails I throw out of the garden for them to find on the road that they aren’t interested in eating the beetles?

So my ears still perk up when I hear of anything that might possibly be a proven solution to my plague. On twitter today I saw a post from Fine Gardening Magazine with a link to an article about Japanese Beetles and roses. This piqued my interest greatly, as Fine Gardening is a very reputable publication and the author of the article, Paul Zimmerman, looks to have some pretty serious rose cred (“Paul Zimmerman has grown thousands of roses for over 15 years and for ten of those years in a sustainable manner.”) 

From that article I learned two very interesting things:

1.  “Simply shaking [Japanese beetles off your roses] and stomping on them attracts more because when killed, the female emits a pheromone that attracts males. Hardly the desired result.”  

Egads, every time I crushed one of those %$@@$ bugs I was sending out a siren call for a bunch more of them to come to the wake! Argh!

2. So is there a solution “…It’s simply a spray made from cedar oil! Preferably Eastern Red Cedar. The principal is the same one used when storing sweaters in a cedar chest to keep moths away. When sprayed on the roses it keeps the beetles away and they fly off to another garden.”

Eastern Red Cedar oil! Ooh, where do I get my hands on some of that?!?  (a quick Google search suggests that my neighbourhood natural/health food store is the first place to look.)

This is definitely something I will be trying out as at least some of my roses are bound to have some beetles appear (there was only so much space and budget for geraniums; I can’t possibly have bought enough to render 100% coverage, even if they are the miracle cure.) 

And if I hear of any other possible solutions, I’ll be sure to let you know.

What my roses look like right now. May they stay this beautiful!


  1. mister anchovy on June 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    The Japanese Beetle in Pennsylvania many years ago led to the development of a new kind of trout fly, known as the terrestrial. These bugs were having some good seasons and there were ubiquitous enough that they were falling into the trout streams. Turns out they were delicious if you happen to be a trout. Fly fisherman imitated them by gluing coffee beans to hooks and painting them up, and voila the terrestrial trout fly was born.

  2. Jennifer Arnott on June 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Tell me when you’re going trout fishing and I will deliver a few dozen of them to you–no need to waste good coffee beans!

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