Japanese Beetles are out of control right now

Researchers say there's an outbreak happening.

If you do any type of gardening or yard work, you've probably noticed a pesky little insect eating holes in your plants.

That's because there's a Japanese Beetle outbreak happening right now. Researchers say it's because of all the rain we've had this year.

"We see higher Japanese Beetle numbers when we receive regular rains during the summer, as we have seen the last several years," University of Minnesota entomologist Jeff Hahn told GoMN.

The metallic green and brown beetles are native to northern Japan, but were accidentally introduced in the U.S. in 1916 and have since become established in Minnesota, the DNR says.

And they looooove to snack on plants, especially roses and garden favorites like raspberries, basil and beans.

But they're not too picky, and will chomp on more than 300 species of plants, from trees to hostas. Adults feed from late June through August, gobbling leaf veins and leaving a "skeletonized" look, the DNR says.

They're hard to control because insecticides have to be applied at just the right time – May through mid-June, when larvae are start feeding, University of Minnesota researchers say

Once the grubs reach pupal stage, it's pretty much too late because insecticides won't work on them. And a lot of Minnesotans prefer not to use pesticides anyway, since they can be harmful to bees.

Which means the problem is only going to get worse.

So what can be done?

The safest way to get rid of the beetles is to shake off as many as you can into a bucket of soapy water and drown them, the U of M says.

You can also try a few insecticides such as neem, carbaryl, or permethrin, Hahn said. But researchers warn not to use them during the day when bees are foraging.

And those special traps on the market for Japanese Beetles? They might actually cause more harm than good.

"Traps are considered one of the worst methods," Hahn told GoMN. "Although they can collect a large number of beetles, research demonstrates that traps attract more Japanese Beetles into your yard and garden than they capture. Instead of reducing plant damage, it is common to see more damage caused when using traps."

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