June bugs are inch-long, slow-flying beetles that can crash into you on a warm evening. Being part of a large family, including the Japanese beetle, the green June beetle, the brown chafer beetle, and other active members from May through July.
The beetles themselves are harmless to people. However, it’s a different story for your grass and landscape. These are the adult stages of the Phyllophaga genus of insects, and the most popular one is the June bug (Phyllophaga longispina).
Adult flying beetles damage your plants by feeding on leaves and stems, yet the main issue is the immature larvae, as the white grubs can damage roots of lawn turfgrass and other plants, causing severe damage.
You will find many other beetles create white grubs as larvae, including Japanese beetles, yet luckily, these are all treated in the same way.
Damage will occur in late summer when grubs are most active underground. You can prise up a patch of dead grass to check for any June bugs. If you see curled white grubs in the dirt, you have an issue, and it could leave you thinking, how do you get rid of June bugs?
Luckily, once you recognize your problem, you can get rid of June bugs as grubs or adults without expensive chemical commercial insecticide. (Read Can I Flea Bomb One Room And Stay In The House)
What Are June Bugs?
The June bug is a broad term used to designate about 100 different beetles found throughout the eastern and southern United States and Canada.
These insects range from 12 to 24 millimeters and have a life cycle of up to three years. June bugs are actually grubs that live in the soil and cause serious damage as they feed on tree roots, grasses, and other things.
The June bug only lives a few months to a year as an adult beetle in early spring or summer. The adult June beetle feeds on decaying organic matter such as leaves, flowers, and other vegetation. Female June bugs lay eggs in lawns and gardens.
- Despite their annoyance and damage, June bugs are necessary for a healthy ecology.
- June bugs are a fantastic natural decomposer and a food source for many birds and insects. June bug larvae can aerate the soil. However, June bug grubs eat holes in lawns and kill garden plants from the roots up. Adult June bugs eat at night on leaves, trees, and crops.
- June bugs cluster around yard lights and can hit windows after dusk.
- In early to midsummer, adult June bugs lay 75-100 eggs underground. Larvae hatch from eggs in about 18 days. The larvae are 1 inch long worms with brown heads that can cause extensive damage.
- The grubs spend one to three years underground, devouring plant roots and molting three times.
Signs of June Bugs
Several indicators point to a June bug infestation, either adult or June bug grubs.
- Large flying beetles are seen at night in summer. June bugs are nocturnal insects that come out after dusk in the summer.
- Your lawn has brown areas which show underground grubs are feasting on turfgrass roots.
- Overnight, little holes are dug on your lawn. Skunks, raccoons, and other carnivores often dig these holes to eat grubs. Because moles consume such grubs, a grub issue can be the start of a mole issue.
- Plant leaves have ragged holes. Adult beetles graze on plants above ground. Japanese beetle damage is very bad.
Quick Ways How To Get Rid of June Bugs
Step 1: Target Grubs At The Optimal Time
It’s easier to get rid of June bugs as grubs rather than when they’ve matured to flying adults. Because these grubs stay near the soil surface until fall, spray your grass with an insecticide at the start of September to kill them. (Find Flowers That Repel Bugs)
Step 2: Remove Adults with June Bug Trap
After you’ve taken rid of the grubs, you can target the adult June bugs to prevent them from laying any more eggs. Set up a trap with a large jar filled with one-half cup of molasses and one-half cup of boiling water. Bury it near a shrub with only the opening above the soil.
Once they fall in, they are effectively drowned. Each morning, check and refill your trap.
Other June bug traps can include a large jar or bucket with a light on top. In the bottom, add an inch of vegetable oil. The light attracts June bugs, who fly in the top and fall into the oil they can’t escape.
Step 3: Remove June bugs By Hand
If you notice a June bug on leaves, put on some gloves and remove them by hand in June bug season. To kill June bugs this way, drop them in a jar of soapy water to dispose of them.
Step 4: Spray Insecticide In Your Yard
If you need to go the chemical route, you can get strong insecticides that kill adult June bugs. However, remember that such insecticides can kill other pests and other beneficial insects in your garden.
Various Ways to Get Rid of June Bugs
Trap Adult Insects
Not all June bug infestations are severe enough to need treatment. A healthy lawn, according to experts, can hold up to ten at the grub stage per square foot. To ensure you are under this, you need to dig up a 1-square-foot section of your turf.
If numbers of grubs are below this level, you’ll see several adult beetles in the evening. To deal with a small population, you can use a mixture of 1/2 cup molasses and 1/2 cup water in a narrow-necked container.
When you first want to know how to get rid of June bugs, you’ll find commercial beetle traps for purchase, yet you can use the homemade method to the same effect.
Caught adults can’t reproduce, and for some, you affect the reproduction cycle. However, trapping adults isn’t enough to keep the population under control if there is a large population.
Add Beneficial Nematodes
Nematodes are microscopic worms that eat the larvae of a variety of insects. As a pest control option, these are increasingly popular solutions to provide a non-toxic, natural pest control option.
You can find Nematodes in various species, yet when you have lawn grubs in the larval stage, you can use Heterorhabditis bacteriophora. You’ll find this also deals with Japanese beetle grubs.
When grubs are active and present, nematodes need applying midsummer to late summer.
Using a garden sprayer or adequate spray bottle and combine the nematodes and apply to a moist lawn in the evening. Water the nematodes vigorously right away, so the solution sinks into the soil.
To completely control grubs and adult June bugs, you may need a few applications over two or three years. However, nematodes are easy to get from garden centers and effective when used correctly to control these and other insects. (Learn How To Get A Bird Out Of Your House)
Apply Milky Spores
Milky spores (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacterium that can efficiently control various insects and grub beetles, including Japanese beetles and other damaging pests.
It is also a great organic grub-control method to stop grubs that wreak havoc on your lawn. It needs warm soil; thus, it may not be the best option for northern regions.
Fall is the best time to apply as it is this time that grubs are usually fairly close to the surface of your short grass lawn. When applied in the spring and summer, or when the soil is too dry, milky spores will not thrive; thus, it needs a wet lawn to be effective.
Milky spores are mixed into water, sprayed, or can be applied as a granular powder. Like other methods, it can take a few years to deal with severe infestations. (Learn How to Apply Milky Spore Powder and Granules)
Use Curative Insecticide
Although it’s preferable to avoid using chemical insecticides, a significant grub and June bug infestation is one instance where insecticides may be required to save your lawn.
In September, the most efficient chemical therapy is to use a carbaryl or trichlorfon-containing product. Such chemicals kill grubs and prevent them from pupating into adults. Grubs are close enough to the surface in September to be killed by the insecticide.
You’ll find these chemicals referred to as curative rather than preventative as they kill insects during their life cycle. If you apply in September, the insecticides could kill up to 80% of the grubs to reduce the following season’s June bug emergence.
Human and most animal toxicity is mild, though well documented.
- Because carbaryl is hazardous to fish, don’t use it where runoff into lakes and rivers is possible.
- Trichlorfon is a central nervous system stimulant, and exposure to high quantities should be avoided.
- Watering the surface immediately will eliminate the chemical and decrease the hazard.
There are several natural, chemical-free home methods for how to get rid of June bugs besides all the previous steps.
One of the most popular is to make your own bug zapper repellent spray using one tablespoon of mineral oil, one pint of water, and one tablespoon of dish soap, with a garlic clove that has been minced.
Beetles hate the smell of garlic, so it works as a deterrent. To keep June bugs away, spray them, or spray where you can find them, such as shrub leaves.
You could also buy an electronic bug zapper which has to be large, yet the light is a natural attraction where it can trap beetles, and the beetle trap will effectively kill them.
How to Prevent June Bugs
The simple answer to controlling the larvae, and thus the June bug population, is to deal with the white grubs you’ll find under the brown patches of lawns and gardens.
Besides the above insect control strategies, reducing fertilizers and spray chemicals helps increase the numbers of natural predators who help kill grubs.
Dethatching a lawn (remove dying grass) regularly can help control the number of June bugs.
You can also try attracting June bug predators, such as birds, to your yard by placing birdbaths. Birds love beetles, and they are effective in controlling beetle populations. Larger birds eat adult June beetles, and some species dig up and eat the grubs, so a landscape that is favorable to birds will help.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) used as a natural insecticide, can keep June bugs away from your yard or patio. DE easily comes into touch with humans and pets, and although not harmful, it can be walked into the home, so try to use a natural, organic food-grade product.
You can also find bats like to eat June bugs, as does the introduction of small predatory animals like toads and snakes can help kill June bug grubs and June beetles without affecting plant life.