Officials believe they have Japanese beetle population eradicated

The destructive Japanese beetle appears to have been eradicated from the east end of the Grand Valley, but officials are setting traps this month and asking residents to be vigilant in case the pest shows up again.

Officials with the Palisade Japanese Beetle Eradication Program have been trapping beetles and treating lawns for years because the beetles can destroy fruit crops, grapes, roses, corn and other garden and field crops. Their work has paid off, with the number of trapped beetles dropping from 1,300 in 2004 to 13 in 2008. Officials trapped zero last year, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires two years of zero trap catches to declare the beetle population eradicated.

“This is a one of a kind event in the United States,” said Judith Sirota, Mesa County weed and pest inspector and program leader. “Eradication is a difficult goal, but I think we’ve made it.”

Karen Rosen, the new program coordinator, will begin setting traps in Palisade. Permission slips allowing Rosen to hang and check traps have been mailed to Palisade residents who participated last year. Slips can be mailed to or dropped off at the Palisade Insectary or Palisade Town Hall.

Rosen said it’s important for residents to return the slips as soon as possible because officials want to hang the traps in the next two weeks.

The white beetle grubs hatch in the soil and feed on the roots of turf grasses, roses and other ornamental shrubs. Adult beetles emerge in June and July but die over the summer. The grubs winter over and emerge as adults the following year to begin the life cycle over again, officials say.

Sirota said residents throughout the valley need to be vigilant for the potential reintroduction of the beetle from Denver and eastern states, areas where populations are firmly established. She said residents should purchase locally grown products from local nurseries and sod farms because officials know they are grub free. Any suspect beetles should be captured and taken to the Colorado State University Tri River Extension Office on Orchard Mesa for identification.

If beetles are found this year, area residents will be notified and lawns will be treated for free.


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