Kids may best know them as the reddish brown bugs with the stickery legs that cling to whatever they land upon. You may best know them as the bugs that wreak havoc in your garden. June bugs (Phylophaga sp.), also called June beetles, are most active in May, June and July. While June bugs mature to 1/2 to 5/8 inches long, they are most destructive during the grub stage. This is when they chow down on the roots of your ornamental plants and vegetables. Adults June bugs nibble plant leaves. Fortunately, you can employ an organic method that will rid your garden of the pests without harming your flowers.
1 Introduce parasitic wasps to your property, and set out bird feeders with the types of seed your local birds love, along with bird baths. Parasitic wasps and birds prey on June bugs. They will be happy to help you control the infestation.
2 Disperse parasitic nematodes onto the soil with a backpack sprayer, following directions on the product label, to rid the garden of June bugs in the grub stage. This should be done when temperatures are between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, either first thing in the morning or late in the evening. Water the soil so that the nematodes move deeper into the soil.
3 Remove any adult June bugs you see by hand first thing in the morning, and set them in a bucket of water mixed with a little dish soap. Repeat daily until you no longer spot any June bugs.
4 Spray the affected plants with a neem oil insecticide. Neem oil is a natural substance that isn't toxic to plants but that will kill and repel June bugs. Neem oil can be applied with a backpack sprayer. Use enough spray to coat all of the leaves of your plants.
Items you will need
- Parasitic wasps
- Bird feeders
- Bird baths
- Parasitic nematodes
- Backpack sprayer
- Dish soap
- Neem oil
- Start your June bug eradication with the most eco-friendly methods, and only use insecticides as a last resort.
- Wear gloves when using insecticides and picking the June bugs off of plants.
- Neem oil insecticide, while the least toxic of insecticides, may also kill any beneficial insects that visit your plant, but will kill less of them if you apply it to the leaves during early morning or late evening.
- Keep children and pets away from any areas sprayed with toxic chemicals.
- Store all toxic insecticides in secure areas away from children and pets.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after using insecticides.
- University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Field Station: Bug of the Week: June Beetle
- Toxic Free NC: Organic Solutions for Japanese Beetles and May or June Bugs
- Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension: June Beetle
- Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Biology and Control of the Green June Beetle
- PennState College of Agricultural Sciences: Insect-Parasitic Nematodes for the Management of Soil-Dwelling Insects
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images