If you spend some time in your garden or lawn in the early summer or spring, you may see different types of bugs everywhere. June bugs might be one of those bugs you’ve encountered but failed to identify. Though these bugs are not harmful to humans and pests, they can be detrimental to plants. That is why you may wonder what kills June bugs. 
This blog will help you to learn:  

  1. What Are June Bugs? 
  2. The Lifecycle of June Bugs  
  3. Are June Bugs Harmful to Plants? 
  4. What Attracts June Bugs? 
  5. Signs of June Bugs  
  6. How Can You Kill June Bugs 
  7. What Are The Natural Ways to Get Rid of June Bugs? 
  8. What’s The Best Insecticide for Serious Infestation? 
  9. Environmental Concerns While Destroying June Bugs 


What Are June Bugs

June bugs (Genus: Phyllophaga; family: Scarabaeidae) also known as June beetles or may beetles are commonly seen in North America during the early summer or late spring, particularly in the month of June, hence the name.  
Due to the destructive eating habit of this pest, the genus name Phyllophaga suggests the meaning of “leaf eaters”. However, there are several other species also known by this name such as green beetles, summer beetles, and even the Japanese beetles.   
These beetles are nocturnal and attracted to bright lights. They are active and usually eat and fly at night and disappear during the day. That’s why it’s difficult to identify and eliminate them from the garden. 
While these beetles can be beneficial to the ecosystem and contribute to soil health, they can become a nuisance in large numbers. June bugs have somewhat oval-shaped bodies. They have a hard exoskeleton that can vary in color ranging from brown to reddish brown or even black. 
These bugs are generally medium to large in size (0.5 to 1 inch). They have distinctive antennae serrated or feathery giving them a slightly bushy appearance. The larvae and adult stages of these bugs can harm plants both under and above the surface.  

The Lifecycle of June Bugs

Early summer is the mating time of June beetles. A female June bug lays up to 200 eggs in multiple groups. These eggs developed in 4 stages—egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. Mother bugs are less attracted to light and burrow the eggs 2 to 5 inches into the soil to keep them safe. 
It takes 18 days for eggs to become larvae which is also known as white grubs. This stage of this insect is considered the most dangerous for lawns or turf. However, this may sound poetic, but June bugs have three-year lifecycles, and they spend more than 2 years as grubs or larvae
During the winter they hibernate and become active in the early summer. An adult June bug or May bug can live one year or less. They normally emerge in May or June, lay eggs, and die at the end of summer.   

Are June Bugs Harmful to Plants?

June beetles or may beetles are generally not considered dangerous to humans and pets since they don’t bite, sting, or spread diseases. June bugs or may bugs in their adult stage, typically feed on foliage during the night. They consume plant material, and their feeding habits are not harmful to healthy plants.  
However, the larvae of June bugs, also known as white grubs, can be highly detrimental to plants. White grubs live in the soil and feed on the roots of grasses and other plants.  
Since most gardeners forget to treat their soil, this eating habit of grubs can be dangerous for your lawn or vegetable garden. However, the extent of the damage depends on factors such as the type of plant, soil condition, and population density of white grubs

What Attracts June Bugs

June bugs can be prevalent in your lawn, or vegetable garden if there is heavy infestation of grubs. Besides, the extreme use of pesticides or chemicals in soil can also eliminate the natural predators of June bugs. These can result in increased numbers of these bugs. 
Besides, these bugs can populate the landscape if various elements are abundant such as bright light, certain odors, moisture, foliage, and warm weather

Bright Light: June bugs are active at night and are strongly attracted to bright artificial lights. So, you might see them swarming around streetlights, porch lights, or any other illuminated areas during the evening. 

Odors: These insects can be attracted to certain scents such as decaying organic matter, rotting fruits, or other organic materials. 

Moisture: You may find these grubs of June bugs in areas with ample moisture. Gardens, lawns, and damp soil can attract them. 

Heavy Use of Fertilizers: Heavily fertilized lawns can create hospitable conditions for these bugs by killing the natural predators. Besides, they can be attracted to thick lawns with thatch. 

Foliage: The adult June bugs eat foliage, leaves, and flowers. So, gardens and areas with lush vegetation may draw their attention. They get more interested if they find leafy plants as well as maize, corn, walnut, and oak trees. 

Warm Weather: As we’ve mentioned June bugs love summer or warm conditions. This is why increased temperature in late spring and early summer prompts their emergence and activity. 

Signs You Have June Bugs

You can easily identify whether you have June bugs in your garden or not. There are several signs through which you can find adult beetles or their larvae. 

If you have these bugs, you may find their carcasses in your garden or lawn. 

If you see flying beetles surrounding a bright light during the summer evening, they are most likely June bugs. 

You’ll see dead spots or brown patches on your lawn, or plants’ leaves if any underground grubs are feeding the roots of turfgrass.  

Possibly you’ll discover holes or bites in trees or shrubs’ leaves. 

Hovering wasps over your yard may indicate they are on a hunt for grubs.  

Increased numbers of moles can indicate you’ve grubs or earthworms in your lawns. 

How Can You Kill June Bugs?

Now that you know a lot about June bugs and how to identify them, you might have been waiting for a long to know what kills June bugs.  
There are several ways you can implement to get rid of these insects such as natural remedies or utilizing the best insecticide for vegetable gardens and lawns.  
But first, let us give you a pro tip as a preventive measure. Because it is easier to create an unfavorable environment for their breeding and growth. For instance, you should avoid mowing your lawn too low. Short grasses can attract female June bugs to lay their eggs
Another option is to spray preventive insecticides during June or July. You can apply insecticides containing imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, or Chlorantraniliprole. Besides, you should reduce the use of soil fertilizers that can kill the natural hunters of grubs. Natural predators like Skunks, raccoons, and moles can come during the night and dig up soil to eat grubs.  
However, the best methods for June bug prevention may fall short. For a good reason, you’ll be more likely to make a little destructive decision of killing these damaging insects. 
You can select any of the following options to get rid of June beetles from your garden: 

Natural Remedies  

Using Commercial Insecticides with Bacillus Thuringiensis (Better Known as BT) 

What Are the Natural Ways to Get Rid of June Bugs?

It’s always a good idea to avoid chemicals to get rid of June bugs grubs and infestation. Since female June beetles lay eggs in midsummer or June, eliminating the adults before they breed will make your garden look better.  

#1: Do it Manually

June beetles are clumsy flyers and easy to with hands. During the evening when June bugs are most active, you can manually pick them off the plants or surfaces. While doing this, use a bucket of soapy water to drown collected June bugs. Besides, you can set up homemade traps such as light traps with a bucket or jar filled with soapy water or ½ cups of molasses and water beneath a light source. Refill the bucket/jar as needed. 

#2: Let Beneficial Nematodes Fight Against June Bugs

You can also apply beneficial nematodes, a microscopic soil worm that directly targets underground grubs. This non-toxic solution can control various insect larvae (e.g., lawn grubs). 
When white grubs of June beetles are active in mid to late summer, apply nematode species like Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (An insect parasite popular for agricultural pest control). This biological control of insects can remove Japanese beetle grubs as well from your lawn, or vegetable garden.   
Mix nematode with a garden sprayer and apply to a wet lawn in the evening. This method will require several applications over a few years for optimal control.  
You can purchase environment-friendly nematodes online to get rid of these bugs naturally.  

#3: Using Essential Oils to Scare-Off June Bugs

Essential oils have insect-repelling properties. You can combat harmful garden insects including June bugs by weaponizing different types of essential oils such as peppermint, neem oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil, eucalyptus oil, or citrus essential oil. 
To prepare natural insecticide with essential oil, just mix 10 to 15 drops of essential oil (whatever extract you prefer) with water and put it in a spray bottle. Spritz it on the affected areas. 
Of note, essential oil solutions may need frequent reapplication due to their short-lived effectiveness. It’s also worth noting that essential oil may not necessarily kill June bugs but may act as a repellent. 
Pro Tip: You can also cultivate a few tomato plants in your garden to keep June bugs away. The leaves of tomato plants can act as a natural bug repellent that will deter June bugs and other insects as well.   

#4: Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT)

Bacillus Thuringiensis (Also known as BT) is another organic method that kills June bugs as well as other damaging insects roughly within a few hours to a few days. BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) is a gram-positive bacterium naturally found in soil. It’s natural, eco-friendly, and harmless to humans, pets, and beneficial insects.  

#5: Applying Natural Insecticide with Garlic

You can also use homemade natural insecticide using garlic. However, this might not be as effective as commercial insecticides or other proven methods. If the infestation is not severe, this might be worth trying for you! 
Here's what you need to prepare this: 

10 cloves of garlic  

1 quart (4 cups) of water 

1 teaspoon mild dish soap 

First, let the garlic steep in water for at least 24 hours. Thus, all the active ingredients of garlic will be infused with water. Strain the garlic pieces out of the water. Then mix 1 teaspoon of dish soap into the strained garlic water. Now pour the garlic insecticide in a spray bottle and directly apply it to the affected plants. 

#6: Using Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

 The last option you want to apply to kill June beetles is Diatomaceous Earth (DE). It is naturally made from fossilized aquatic organisms called diatoms. It is noteworthy that using DE might be a good option for those who want to avoid chemicals, but they should keep in mind Diatomaceous Earth can be harmful to pollinators (e.g., honey bees).  

What’s The Best Insecticide for Serious Infestation?

If your lawn or garden has serious June beetles (AKA Japanese Beetles) infestations, it demands immediate action. To kill adult June bugs instantly, you can use insecticides that contain Imidacloprid
Imidacloprid is a chemical that is formulated in a way that mimics nicotine. Nicotine is found in natural products like tobacco which is toxic to sucking insects, termites, and soil insects. You can find this pest control for turfgrass and landscape planting in commercial stores. 
Pro Tip: you can apply carbaryl or trichlorfon in September to effectively kill white grubs and prevent their pupation into adults. However, in the case of carbaryl, caution is necessary due to its moderate toxicity. 

Environmental Concerns While Destroying June Bugs

When eliminating or destroying pests, including June bugs, every responsible gardener should follow the EPA Pesticide safety tips. It’s always a good practice to prioritize environmental-friendly approaches. 
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies advocate prevention and monitoring, reducing reliance on chemicals. While destroying June bugs, always look for organic methods like utilizing natural predators like birds and beneficial nematodes. This also aligns with the EPA-approved biological approach.  
You can also go for botanical solutions such as neem oil which is recognized by the EPA for disrupting June bugs’ lifecycles. Pyrethrin-based sprays and essential oils sprays are also considered eco-friendly when it comes to killing June bugs. 

The Bottom Line

Hope you’re now fully aware of what kills June bugs. To recap, June bugs can be dangerous for your plants especially when they continuously populate your lawn or garden area. 
However, killing these bugs are easy process. They move slowly and are clumsy flyers. So, you can easily catch them by hand during their active hours. Besides, you can utilize a natural approach of letting nematodes fight against them. Essential oils, and effective biological and chemical solutions as insecticides can be applied as well to kill these plant eaters.   

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Here are some relevant questions and answers related to what insecticides kill June bugs. 

What Are the Common Names of June Bugs?

Some of the common names of June bugs are June Beetle, May Beetle, Japanese Beetle, Green June Bug, Fig eater, Tenlined June Beetle, and European Chafe. 

Can June Bugs Destroy Root Vegetable Plants?

Yes, June bugs can be detrimental to root vegetable plants like potatoes, carrots, and other root crops. However, adult beetles are not responsible for this destruction. The larvae stage of these bugs called grubs live under the surface and eat plant roots as well as beneficial organic matter. 

What to Spray for June Bugs?

You can spray biological or botanical pest controls to kill June bugs. The common sprays that are used to destroy these bugs are Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT), Imidacloprid, Diatomaceous Earth (DE), and Chlorantraniliprole. Besides, you can use homemade sprays like essential oils (e.g., neem oil, rosemary oil, Mint oil). Besides, natural predators and nematodes can also be utilized to kill June bugs.