Japanese Beetle – Popillia japonica

Japanese Beetle – Popillia japonica
Family Scarabaeidae – Scarab Beetles / Subfamily Rutelinae
Live  Japanese beetles photographed at Illinois, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, USA.
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The Japanese Beetle is oval shaped, with a bright metallic green body and pronotum and brown or reddish-orange elytra. White to grayish hair underneath, with five patches of white hair (setae) along each side if the abdomen, and two tufts of white hair at the rear. This is a very distinctive beetle – nothing else looks like it. Males have pointed tibial spurs, the female's are rounded. Habitat and range: The Japanese beetle can be found in gardens, woods, and open meadows. The beetle is slowly spreading across the U.S. after being accidentally introduced many times in the early 20th century, most notably in 1916 along with roots of imported Iris. [2]

Japanese beetles can feed on about 300 species of plants, ranging from roses to poison ivy. Odor and location in direct sun seem to be very important factors in plant selection. The beetles usually feed in groups, starting at the top of a plant and working downward. While a single beetle doesn't eat much; group feeding by many causes severe damage. Adults feed on the upper surface of foliage, chewing out tissue between the veins. This gives the leaf a characteristic skeletonized appearance.

A few beetles on plants, or some moderate damage, will bring in more. Japanese beetles apparently produce aggregation pheromones that will attract more males and females to feed and find potential mates. In addition, volatile odors from damaged plants may attract more beetles.

Scarab beetle antennae form a club at the last 3-7 segments, flattened into plates (lamellae) that can be expanded or folded together. [1] 
Insecticides for Japanese Beetle Control
Many insecticides are labeled for Japanese beetle control on landscape plants. Examples include acephate (Orthene Turf, Tree & Ornamental Insecticide), carbaryl (Sevin and many other brand names), cyfluthrin (Bayer Advanced Garden Multi-Insect Killer Concentrate), lambda-cyhalothrin (Spectracide® Triazicide® Soil & Turf Insect Killer Concentrate), esfenvalerate (Ortho Bug-B-Gon Garden & Landscape Insect Killer Concentrate), and permethrin (Spectracide® Bug Stop Multi-Purpose Insect Control Concentrate and many other brands).

Neem extracts (Bon-Neem) deter Japanese beetle feeding but may not be adequate against high populations. Direct spray applications of insecticidal soap kills Japanese beetles on contact but does not provide any residual protection.


  1. Troy Bartlett et al, Bugguide.net, Family Scarabidae – Scarab Beetles
  2. Line, Les. The Audubon Society Book of Insects. Harry N Abrams, 1983.
Order Coleoptera: Beetles are the dominant form of life on earth: one of every five living species is a beetle. Coleoptera is the largest order in the animal kingdom, containing a third of all insect species. There are about 400,000 known species worldwide, ~30,000 of which live in North America.  Beetles live in nearly every habitat, and for every kind of food, there's probably a beetle species that eats it.
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