June Bug Control: How to Identify, Prevent and Get Rid of June Bugs

Also known as June beetles or May bugs, June bugs can be pesky pests in the garden when they are present in high numbers. They can lead to cosmetic damages to your plants, and hence, destroy the landscape, especially your ornamental plants. Although they can be present only for a few weeks in a year, they can be frustrating because of the damages that they bring. With this, you need to know how to get rid of June bugs to avoid suffering from their severe infestation.

It is important to note that June bug is a name that does not refer to a specific type of insect that can wreak havoc in the garden. Rather, it is a collective term for different species that can survive in different regions. Some of the most popular that falls under the category of June bugs include European chafer beetle, green June beetle, Japanese beetle, figeater beetle, and ten-lined June beetle, among others.

Although they may be different in terms of physical appearance, there are some common denominators that they share with each other. For instance, June bugs are nocturnal. Their feeding activity happens during the night. Also, although they can be aggressive feeders on plants, luckily, they do not bite humans.

June Bug

June Bugs Can be Pesky Pests in the Garden

June Bug’s Habitat

The habitat of June bugs may also vary depending on their species. Generally, however, they are hiding in trees during the day and it is at night when they go out of their shelter to feed on plants. During the laying season, females live up to five inches deep on the ground. Here, it will lay up to 75 eggs over the course of two weeks. Upon hatching, the larvae will feed on the soil during winter and on plants during warm summer.

Identifying June Bug’s Damage

Plants Affected

The diet of June bugs will depend on their stage of development. When they are young, they will feed mostly on the roots. When they transition into an adult, on the other hand, they can feed above the ground and cause more visible damages to plants, such as their leaves. Grass, landscape plants, and trees are some of the most common hosts for June bugs. To be specific, they will also eat oak and walnut. During the larval stage, when they feed on the roots, its hosts include potatoes, corn, and roses.


Below are some of the most common signs indicative that June bugs are feeding on your plants:

  • If there are brown patches in the lawn that are large, this is one of the indications that June bugs are present. When they feed on the grass, it will turn brown and will die. Especially when it is hot, the damage will be worse. This can make the lawn unattractive.
  • It is also common to notice discoloration, especially in the leaves. It will inhibit photosynthesis. The plant will not be able to receive the nutrients that are essential for its survival. At its worst, it can die.
  • They will also feed on trees and can leave unattractive spots. The bark can be stripped from the tree if there is a large population of June bugs.
  • Aside from the plants, the symptoms will be apparent as well in the soil. If it feels spongy, this is a sign that there are too many larvae feeding underground, which will cause potential damages on the roots.

Results of Infestation

June bugs can lead to cosmetic damages in their host plants. They will target the leaves, especially when they are adults. The young ones, on the other hand, will feed on the roots because they are living underground. Regardless of which stage they are, their feeding habits can inhibit the transfer of nutrients to the other parts of the plants. This will make the host wilt, and eventually, it will die. In most instances, the infestation from June bugs do not cause a significant economic loss for commercial growers.

Japanese Beetle Leaf Damage

June Bugs Target the Leaves

How to Get Rid of June Bugs

Natural and Organic Solutions

For a safe but effective way to deal with June bugs, the following are some of the best things to do:

  • Keep the garden clean. Sanitation is one of the most effective means for the prevention of infestation. Clear the area from decaying vegetation, leaf litter, and other debris that can make the environment suitable for the beetle.
  • Hand-picking will also be a good solution, specifically if we are talking about a small number of June beetles. It will be hard to manually remove the larvae because they are under the ground. This method works best only for adult bugs. Throw them in a bucket of soapy water to be sure that they will be killed. Using a vacuum will also work.
  • Take advantage of the natural enemies of June bugs, making it possible to eradicate them in a way that is non-toxic. Among others, you can make the garden more attractive to birds. You can consider putting seeds so that birds will eat them. Skunks and chicken can also be effective.
  • When it comes to biological control of June bugs, nematodes will also help. You can purchase nematodes from commercial sellers and release them in the garden. The quantity will depend on the size of the land that you have to treat. The nematodes will help to kill the larvae in as quick as two days.
  • Making sure that the lawn is healthy is another simple solution that holds a lot of promise. Do not keep the grass too short as this will make it more attractive for adult June bugs to lay their eggs. Make sure that it receives enough air, water, and heat. If the soil is healthier, it will be less susceptible to being a breeding ground for beetles.

Chemical Solutions

Chemical control is one of the most common ways to get rid of June bugs, although it has a negative reputation because of toxicity. In most cases, professional application will be necessary which will ensure safety and the highest level of effectiveness. Among others, carbaryl is one of the most common chemicals in pesticides for June beetles. A man-made pesticide, it has been around since 1959 and is also used in the treatment of aphids, spiders, and fire ants, among others. There are more than 190 products in the global market using this as the main ingredient. Some of the most popular include Denapon, Karbaspray, Carbamin, and Sevin.

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