How To Get Rid of Japanese Beetles on Knockout Roses

Measuring only ½” of an inch in length, Japanese beetles are little creatures that love to munch on over 300 species of plants, and one of their favorite treats? Knockout Roses. 

You may have noticed the leaves of your knockout roses, and other plants look as though the leaves have turned to something resembling lace. 

Japanese beetle eating rose leafPin

This is a telltale sign that it’s time to combat Japanese beetles in your garden causing real damage to plants.

What Is the Japanese Beetle?

Japanese beetles are very recognizable. It’s hard to miss their metallic green head, with coloring that continues onto their thorax. The wings are a metallic copper color. 

If all of that wasn’t enough to distinguish this beetle from the rest, the abdomen’s sides have stripes with white hairs in a series of 5.

The larva of Japanese Beetles are not as unique as the adults and look similar to any other white grub. 

The most recognizable thing about the larva that let us know there are Japanese beetles nearby is the pattern of spines and hairs that line the abdomen’s tip. 

Since their introduction into the US in 1916, Japanese Beetles have ravaged crops and plants. 

While this bug has successfully made its way to most of the 50 states, their infestation is predominantly in States just east of the Mississippi River.

What Damage Do Japanese Beetles Cause to Knockout Roses?

These little bugs don’t merely eat leaves. Even their eating patterns are recognizable. These nasty pests consume the plant tissue around the veins, giving an appearance of lace to your plant’s leaves. 

Knockout rose blossoms are often the most significant casualty to a Japanese beetle, given the overall plant.

While a rose bush can usually survive a Japanese beetle’s onslaught, it cannot always come back or bloom from losing the blossoms. 

Plants that have been a feeding ground for these insects appear skeletonized. 

The result is that plants cannot restore health to the affected leaves, so they turn brown and die.

Related: What Causes Knockout Roses To Get Holes In Their Leaves?

How to Control & Rid Your Knockout Roses of Japanese Beetles?

It is essential with Japanese beetles to get them the minute you notice they are there. It is astonishing how quickly their numbers can multiply, and the presence of just one or two beetles can attract hoards of them in no time.

Milky Spore

This method is best when used for the long-term relief of Japanese Beetles. It’s a fantastic decision to dust your lawn once a year over three years to eradicate these bugs. 

Milky Spore is a disease developed in the 1930s. We find that Japanese Beetles are particularly susceptible to it as it disrupts their life cycle.

Beetles will contract the disease and spread it, causing entire populations of the beetle to kill off at one time. It is an effective method for control and easy to get your hands on Milky Spore. It is sold at most home improvement stores.


Insecticides can always be useful for killing unwanted insects. The chemicals will kill Japanese Beetles by shutting down their nervous system, resulting in their death. 

While insecticides are an excellent option for a quick fix, they are not always the safest option for you and your family. 

Additionally, some chemicals are often not approved in some areas.

Insecticides are most effective when used at dawn, just before the beetles emerge and become active.

Related: Tips On Getting Rid of Japanese Beetles Naturally

Neem Oil

One of the safest methods of getting rid of Japanese beetles is Neem Oil. It is non-toxic and sourced from the Azadirachta indica tree. It is essential to use this oil when the larvae are just about to enter adulthood. 

Use neem oil right before the Japanese Beetles start mating.

Spread the oil on the ground near the afflicted plant. The oil and oily residue will get on the beetles and spread to the bugs as they leave their home underground. 

Also, applying this oil will permeate any developing eggs, which results in the larva dying before reaching adulthood.

Using natural Neem Oil isn’t the quickest fix, but it is still useful, and even better, it’s safer to use. One downside of using Neem Oil is that it is harmful to fish. 

Avoid using this product if you live near a body of water like a pond or river as the oil can leach into the water source.  

Soapy Water Solution

If you’re an environmentally conscious individual, this is a great way to eliminate Japanese Beetles in your Knockout Roses. 

Mix a teaspoon of dish soap to a quart of water and spray the solution on the affected roses and the ground around where you see beetle damage.

Related: What’s a Good Knockout Bug Spray?

Pheromone Traps

These traps are among the least harmful options to Japanese Beetles. The traps can lead the beetles away from your plants and encourage them to take a trip elsewhere. All you have to do is place these traps as far away from your roses as possible, and voila!

A significant issue with traps such as these is that if they are placed too close to where Japanese Beetles already reside, they will do more harm than good. 

Beetles will follow the pheromones wherever they sense them. If the trap is close to other beetles, it will act like a jamboree and attract even more beetles to the affected plant area.

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