What Smell Do Japanese Beetles Hate? (Top 5 Scents)

what smell do japanese beetles hate

Have Japanese Beetles found a home in your garden? These garden pests are bad news, and you’re probably looking for a way to repel them without causing more harm to your beloved plants. 

It’s no news that certain smells actively repel these insects, causing them to stay away from your garden for a long time. So, what smell do Japanese Beetles hate? 

Japanese Beetles have an acute sense of smell and dislike scents like;

  • Wintergreen
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Peppermint
  • Neem 
  • Anise
  • Cedarleaf
  • Bergamot mint
  • Oregano 
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Marigold
  • White Geraniums
  • Wormwood oil
  • Juniper Berry oil
  • Citronella oil
  • Cedar oil
  • Lemongrass
  • Basil
  • Dogwood trees
  • Boxwood
  • Magnolia trees
  • Cabbage
  • Bergamot mint
  • Lemon grass and several other extracts. 

To keep the little pests away, you can spray mixtures of these oils around your garden or plant them around. To permanently drive Japanese Beetles away, you must also get rid of their eggs. You can do this by cleaning with white vinegar or any of the essential oils listed above. 

These pests don’t go away easily; it will take persistence and patience to keep them away permanently. So buckle up and get ready to learn what smells Japanese Beetles hate. 

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5 Scents You Can Use to Keep Japanese Beetles Away?

Japanese Beetles have sensitive antennae, which they use to locate plants they like or to find their mating partners. Because these little plant pests have no sense of boundaries, they can find plants they want in your garden or among your crops. 

To discourage them from entering your garden, you can take advantage of their sensitive antennae by putting smells they hate around your plants. Doing this saves you the trouble of salvaging damaged plants, which rarely goes well.

Here are some examples of scents that repel Japanese Beetles and how you can use them to keep the little pests away for good:

1. Plant Garlic and Chives

These wonderful spices are great companion spices that will always keep your garden healthy and free of bugs. The best way to use them is to plant them around the plants you’d like to protect from Japanese Beetles.

Once your garlic or chives plants have started to sprout, you can crush a few leaves every morning and leave them around your garden. Doing this will release the scent, making it stronger and more effective. 

While this is an effective method, professional gardeners warn against planting garlic cloves near peas or beans as this may alter their growth. Other than that, these spices will effectively repel Japanese Beetles without hassle. 

2. Neem Oil 

Another smell that repels Japanese Beetles is the smell of neem oil. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, neem oil is a naturally occurring pesticide. It is commonly extracted and used in certain pesticide products because its sulfur-like smell keeps plant pests away. 

To use neem oil in your garden, make a mixture by diluting 10 to 15 drops in a cup of water. After shaking properly, pour into a spray bottle and spray directly on plants. For larger plants or trees, you’ll need to double or triple the proportion and use a larger sprayer to spread it around. 

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3. Rue

Rue 1

These butterfly-loving plants are great for repelling Japanese beetles and larger animals like dogs or cats. Rue works just fine if you’d like to keep the beetles at bay while protecting your plants from being trampled by your pets. 

You can plant rue around your garden or occasionally sprinkle some fresh rue leaves to repel Japanese Beetles. 

Rue doesn’t just work for gardens; you can also use it as a natural insect repellent inside your house. All you have to do is pick some leaves and leave them out to dry. Once dry, place it in a breathable bag and keep it wherever you want to repel bugs. It works like a charm.

4. Catnip

Catnip is one of the herbs from the mint family that is appealing to cats and repulsive to Japanese Beetles. Planting catnip around your garden will deter the beetles and allow your plants to breathe. 

However, the downside to using catnip is that while it repulses Japanese Beetles, it attracts cats. You might have to start worrying about keeping cats from stepping on your plants because they will hang out in your garden if you let them. If this won’t be a problem for you, then catnip away! 

5. Wintergreen and Peppermint Oil 

Oils extracted from wintergreen and peppermint plants effectively keep Japanese Beetles away. The trick is always to dilute the oils in water to make a spray, and never spray oils directly in your garden as they are super concentrated. 

Remember to keep the wintergreen and peppermint smell strong by reapplying the spray as often as possible. Minty scents naturally repel bugs, and Japanese Beetles will not visit your garden anytime soon if you keep the peppermint smell strong. 

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How To Use These Scents To Repel Japanese Beetles?

Knowing the suitable locations for these scents will ensure you’re not just wasting your time, but are effectively eliminating Japanese Beetles. If you don’t apply them properly, you’ll only ward these insects off for a little while, after which they will certainly return to do more damage to your garden. 

Besides spraying the scents directly on your plants, you can also put them at some other prime locations around your garden for maximum effect. This includes;

1. Spraying on Plant Containers and Hanging Baskets

If your plants are in pots, hanging baskets, or containers, you should also spray these containers with whatever scent you’re using. Spraying on the plant alone will make Japanese Beetles find shelter somewhere far from the pot, only to return when the smell has dissipated. However, pouring on the flower pots and plant containers makes the scent last longer and keeps the insects farther away.

2. Form a Border Around Your Garden 

If you’re using companion plants to deter Japanese Beetles, you can plant them around your garden, forming a border that keeps the beetles from approaching your plants in the first place. On the other hand, if you’re spraying the scents, you can also splash them around your garden to form an imaginary border after using them directly on the plants and flower pots. 

Alternative Japanese Beetle Control Measures 

Besides using scents to keep Japanese Beetles from feasting on your plants, you can also use other physical control measures. Using the scents along with physical control alternatives will give the best results. 

Some of these alternative Japanese Beetle control measures include: 

1. Use Row Covers

The peak feeding period for Japanese Beetles falls between six to eight weeks from May to June. If you see signs of beetle damage, it is best to cover your plants with mesh wiring and row covers to protect them from further damage. 

Row covers will not only keep beetles away but will also keep pollinators away. As such, if your crops need to be pollinated, don’t forget to take the row covers off after a few hours each day.

2. Handpick Adult Beetles

Japanese Beetles are large enough to be spotted easily. You can physically deter Japanese Beetles by picking them up whenever you see them trying to feast on your plants. 

These insects usually come out to feed in the mornings and early hours of the day so they are most active then. So, if you’re going with this method, do it as early in the day as possible. 

However, handpicking may not always be the most effective method because smaller beetles might escape your line of sight. For more effect, you can combine handpicking with other beetle control measures. 

3. Plant Trap Crops

Japanese Beetles are often drawn to plants like roses, cherries, pine oak, apples, raspberries, and crabapples. You can plant these crops a reasonable distance from your garden to attract the beetles there instead.

Using these plant traps requires some technique that draws them away from your garden. If you don’t do it right, you’re just providing one large buffet table for the Japanese Beetles to feast on. 

4. Set Japanese Beetle Traps

Store-bought Japanese Beetle traps are another way to keep the little pests off your prized plants. These traps are usually coated with flower scents that attract beetles to lure them away from your garden. 

After inspecting your garden to be sure you’re dealing with Japanese Beetles, ensure you place the traps near a non-flowering tree-like pinewood and place it far away from your garden. If left for too long, the beetles will eventually die. So, if you’d like to keep them alive, take them somewhere miles away from your garden.

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To conclude, Japanese Beetles are tiny six-legged insects that could bring a world of trouble to your garden if left unattended. You can put scents they hate around your garden to keep them away. 

This includes scents like wintergreen, neem oil, peppermint, and rue. You can also use plants like chives, garlic, or catnip to keep them away. When spraying these beetle deterrents, ensure you also sprinkle them over the plant containers and flower pots and not just the plant leaves.

Besides using scents they hate, other Japanese Beetle control measures include using row covers, Japanese Beetle traps, planting trap crops, or handpicking. 

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