It will take a coordinated response to eradicate the Japanese beetle that is causing a great deal of concern in the local food, ornamental plant and turf industries.
I really appreciated receiving a call recently from Hedy Dyck, COO of the B.C. Landscape and Nursery Association, regarding a serious invasive and destructive pest.
The Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) has been detected in Vancouver, causing a great deal of concern in the local food, ornamental plant and turf industries. This beetle has been established in the eastern U.S. and Canada for some time, but in those regions cold winter temperatures and other control measures keep it manageable. On the milder West Coast, there’s potential for a bigger threat if it is not controlled early and effectively.
The presence of this beetle is of concern both environmentally and economically. This pest may have serious repercussions for the organic food industry because there is no effective biological control registered in Canada. The damage these beetles can do to both homegrown and commercial vegetables, tree fruits and small fruits, including grapes, is significant. They are also devastating to roses, perennials, flowering shrubs and over 300 plant species, skeletonizing the leaves. The beetle is also a great threat to turf, eating and destroying the roots.
To complicate the matter wild blackberries, one of the key host plants, are not only abundant everywhere, but they are also hard to control.
Japanese beetles have two life cycles: the flying stage and the larval stage. From approximately June 15 to Oct. 15, they are in the flying stage and spreading rather quickly. In this stage, these very handsome beetles measure about 15mm long and 10mm wide and have iridescent copper-coloured backs and green thoraxes and heads.
The definitive identifying marks for this species of beetle are the little white tufts on its abdomen — five on each side. By mid-October the larvae — large white grubs about the size of the infamous European chafer beetle — are in the soil, causing damage to the turf and creating a feast for skunks, racoons and crows.
The folks at the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture are leading the process of controlling this insect. Although no one has been able to determine how it got here, three levels of government, including the City of Vancouver, BCMoA and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CIFA) are working together with the B.C. Agricultural Council, the Invasive Species Council, the Western Canada Turf Grass Association, and the B.C. Landscape and Nursery Association on a program to eradicate this pest before it gets any further.
To this end, as of April 27 and until further notice, the CFIA has established a regulated zone in the City of Vancouver. This regulated area is bordered by Burrard Inlet on the north and from Burrard Street east to Clark Drive and extends south to 12th Avenue. Regulating this area means that the movement of soil and rooted plants with soil out of the designed area is prohibited year-round.
In addition, the movement of above-ground plant parts, such as leaves, grass clippings, pruned materials and weeds will be restricted between June 15 and Oct. 15, during the flight period of the adult beetles. These restrictions apply to everyone: homeowners, renters, landscape companies, retailers and construction companies alike.
Residents are still able to dispose of their green waste in their regular manner with the weekly recycling program. The trucks that pick up the green waste are enclosed sufficiently that there is confidence the beetle cannot fly out.
Landscapers and people with gardens with larger amounts of green waste are awaiting information from the city regarding transferring debris from the regulated area to a CFIA-approved disposal site. If you live in the regulated area and have a landscaper working for you, expect some increased costs to deal with the specialized disposal requirements now mandated by CFIA’s new regulation.
The B.C. Plant Protection Advisory Council, a group of scientists, researchers and environmental, forestry and agricultural specialists, has provided science-based recommendations for the treatment of both public and private lands. The BCMoA will be establishing a new regulatory authority to allow the province to take responsibility for Japanese beetle treatment orders beginning in 2019.
The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver park board will treat public lands to stop the spread of this invasive pest, with BCMoA working on a voluntary (but strongly encouraged) treatment plan for private lands, endorsed by all the stakeholders.
The larvicide Acelepryn will be applied as a liquid only on turf areas, and then watered in so it reaches the zone where the larvae live in the soil. This is a very safe product (less toxic than table salt) and is not harmful to people, pets or pollinators when used correctly.
There will also be an enhanced trapping plan. Approximately 1500 traps will be placed not only within the control area but also from Hope to Whistler for detection purposes. The traps, containing a Japanese beetle attractant (a combination of a floral lure and a pheromone) will pose no risk to animals or humans.
It will take a coordinated response to eradicate the Japanese beetle, and the public can play an important role by reporting any sightings.
If you think you have seen this pest on your property or on public lands, please contact http://www.inspection.gc.ca/jb or call 1-800-442-2342. It is essential that we all work together to control this very harmful species.