Effective tree and shrub maintenance mean protecting your plants from the full range of external threats, not least of which are the many insects that prey on Midwestern foliage. Few such insects are more serious than Japanese beetles. Despite their name and country of origin, Japanese beetles are a common sight in Michigan, where they attack a wide variety of shrubs and trees throughout their life cycles. Combined with Multicolor Asian Lady beetles, Boxelder beetles, and countless other beetle pests, these insects present a severe threat to even the most vibrant green spaces. We offer comprehensive beetle prevention, keeping your trees and shrubs clear of insect invaders throughout the year.


Officially known as Popillia Japonica, Japanese beetles are a type of insect that feeds on a wide variety of plants. As their name implies, they originally come from Japan, but they have been in the United States for more than a century. They first reached Detroit in the 1970s, and have since become a common sight all over Michigan, particularly in the northern Lower Peninsula region and the areas surrounding Bay City and Muskegon.

Of all the insects that attack your trees and shrubs, Japanese beetles are among the most damaging, in part because they are so undiscriminating in what they eat. Many insects will prey on one or two types of plants, but these beetles eat everything from rose bushes to fruit trees to every variety of shade and ornamental plant. They also represent a threat throughout their life cycles. As larvae, they eat the roots of bushes and trees, making it harder for those plants to take up water. As larvae and adults, they also attract larger animals that will dig up the roots of your plants to get to them. Then as adults, they will eat all of the green material on your leaves, preventing them from taking in energy from the sun. Without effective Japanese beetle control, your entire yard will be vulnerable to serious damage throughout the year, to the point that you may have to replace many of your trees and shrubs.

In protecting your yard from these types of damage, it’s important to distinguish Japanese beetles from other insects with a similar appearance, especially ash borers. While these bugs are colored with similar shades of green and brown, ash borers are far less destructive because they only prey on ash trees. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned if you find ash borers in your yard, but Japanese beetles present a whole other level of threat; getting rid of them must be one of your highest priorities.


Japanese beetles are not the only beetle pests to threaten an array of trees and shrubs throughout the year. Other serious insect menaces include:


Known for the foul smell that they emit, stink beetles threaten your plants at least as much as your breathing. They prey on an array of different shrubs and trees, with a particular fondness for flowers and fruit bushes. If allowed to multiply, they will suck the juice out of these plants, harming the development of fruit and flower buds.


Sometimes rendered “box elder,” this type of beetle is brownish or black in color with red markings. It tends to attack ornamental shrubs and trees, sucking the fluid out of leaves so as to leave them yellow and malformed. While none of these bugs is by itself as serious as the Japanese beetle, each presents a unique threat to your plants, your home, and your peace of mind. Homeowners in Michigan should thus have a plan for preventing all of these pests, which they must follow consistently throughout the year.


A type of ladybug, these beetles produce a foul smell and an unsightly appearance when they congregate on your plants and the side of your home.


Safari Tree takes a holistic approach to pest control, preventing Japanese beetles and all other harmful insects through the targeted use of preventative insecticides. During the first half of July, we will apply clothianidin, thiamethoxam, or imidacloprid. If your plants are at particularly serious risk, we can also apply chlorantraniliprole between May and the beginning of July. These insecticide treatments prevent a Japanese or other beetle infestation from getting off the ground, protecting your plants from the earliest stages of damage. We apply them safely and efficiently, providing a solid foundation for healthy tree and shrub growth all over your yard.

Don’t leave your home vulnerable to Japanese, Boxelder, and other beetle pests. For more information on pest control or to obtain a free estimate for your trees and shrubs, contact Safari Tree today.