Asian giant hornets are not the only invasive species we have to worry about. The State Department of Agriculture is unveiling a new plan to target Japanese beetles.
The Japanese beetle is a type of invasive insect with no natural predators in Washington. Last year, about 24,000 beetles were caught in the Grandview area, between Yakima and the Tri-Cities, but WSDA’s assumption is that for every beetle caught, there were many others that went unnoticed.
“The Japanese beetle can lay up to 100 eggs every year, so its population can exponentially increase every year,” said Amber Betts, media relations coordinator with WSDA.
The goal is to have the Japanese beetle eradicated within the next few years.
So far, Japanese beetles have only been seen in residential neighborhoods in Grandview, but the fear is that the beetle could migrate to nearby farms and devastate the agricultural industry.
“The issue is that this beetle specifically eats the crops that we grow here in Washington state,” Betts said. “They feast on over 300 different types of plants and crops, including our hops, our grapes, roses, grass, all the things that we grow that the world really depends on us to provide.”
After arriving in the U.S. through travel, such as by stowing away on container ships, invasive insects can move big distances through ground travel.
“They can hitch a ride in your luggage, in your cars, if someone moved across the country with a plant,” Betts said. “Really, it could have been anything.”
That is why the department is proposing establishing a quarantine on certain commercial products, like potted plants, turf, or yard waste in the Grandview area.
“Right now it’s looking like yard waste and potted plants and things like that — it may not need to not move out of the area, but it may need treatment,” Betts explained.
The public can submit comments on this proposal. The department is especially seeking comments from small business owners about how they may be impacted by this quarantine.
The department is also proposing spreading pesticide on people’s lawns, with their permission, beginning in April. According to information provided by the Washington State Department of Health, the type of pesticide being used, Acelepryn G, does not have known harmful health effects for humans or pets. People will be notified by mail if their yards are in the treatment area, and they will then have the opportunity to give or deny their permission for treatment.
“It’s really important that we get 100% approval to really be successful in this,” Betts said.
Just as with Asian giant hornets, the department will also be hanging thousands of traps in the late spring. And just as with the hornets, people living in the area are invited to help the effort by hanging their own traps and reporting any findings.