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The effect of the social environment on post-copulatory mate guarding duration in Japanese beetles, (Popillia japonica Newman), was examined in a laboratory experiment. The mate guarding durations of beetles in different sex ratios and densities were observed for 10 hours. Guarding duration was longer when females were larger, suggesting the presence of ‘cryptic’ male mate choice. Densities, but not sex ratio, affected the duration of guarding bouts, with males guarding for longer at higher densities. This result implies that males increase their guarding duration under conditions in which their female may be likely to be encountered by other males. The lack of a sex ratio effect on the duration of guarding bouts is consistent with other studies on this species that indicate males have difficulty distinguishing females from males. Consequently, because the sex ratio on food plants is typically male-biased, a paired male may react just to density, treating surrounding individuals as if they were mostly males. The total amount of time males spent guarding was lower at lower densities and at male-biased sex ratios; this suggests that after ceasing to guard one female, males were less able to find a subsequent mate under these conditions.