Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

How We Stopped the Japanese Beetle

 Five Keys to Successful Invasive Species Eradication
Summary of Japanese Beetle Eradication in Orem City, Utah

Note: This article is written by UDAF State Entomologist, Clint Burfitt who coordinated the Department's Japanese beetle eradication effort.  This successful eradication is considered the first in the country for eliminating a large urban Japanese beetle infestation.  At its height, the infestation area measured 100 square residential blocks.

Japanese beetle (JB) was introduced into the United States in New Jersey in 1916. With no natural predators or parasites to control the population, JB has spread throughout most of the states east of the Mississippi with pockets of infestation in states further west. Adult beetles are voracious, often aggregate feeders, with a known host range of over 300 species of plants.

At the end of June 2006, an Orem, Utah resident found a JB while inspecting damage to vegetation in her yard. Once the specimen was positively identified, extensive statewide detection and localized delimiting trapping indicated that it was localized in that city, which is a largely, non-agricultural, residential area. An economic impact analysis indicated that the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica Newman) is a potentially serious threat to Utah’s $124 million nursery and floriculture economy. The primary impacts to the nursery and floriculture economy would be an increase in production costs due to curative and regulatory treatments and market access losses due to exterior state quarantines. Management and control of this widespread pest is estimated to cost the turfgrass and ornamental industries approximately $450 million annually (Potter and Held 2002).

This project was declared eradicated in 2014 after 4 years of negative trapping data in the treatment area of Orem City, Utah. The following 5 keys were critical to the success of this difficult project and are accordingly ordered in importance by the author.

I) Community Support
The development and initiation of a public outreach and education campaign was critical to the success of the eradication program. Internet websites, public meetings, and an informational mailing were utilized to improve residents’ understanding of the potential long-term impact of the infestation on the agricultural industry of Utah, as well as the economic impact on their own lives with increased cost of landscape maintenance due to damage by JB. Public open houses were held at the Orem City Seniors Center for neighborhoods identified in the treatment area. The following  partners were in attendance and provided information about the planned spray treatment program: Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), Utah Department of Health, Utah State University Extension, Bayer Crop Science, True Green Chemlawn, Orem City (Neighborhoods in Action), and Colorado State University Extension City of Palisade eradication program.

II) Detection Methodology
A scientifically credible detection method exists in the form of a trap and lure combination for JB. Traps are deployed with a strict adherence to inter-trap distances which creates a grid pattern. Trap density is based on the probability of detecting JB.  The number of JB found in each trap were recorded and then analyzed by ArcMap Spatial Analyst with inverse distance weighting (IDW). The product of IDW analysis is a map showing the probability of a JB occurring within a given area.
All traps are staggered from the previous year trap location to increase overall trapping coverage.

III) Effective Treatment Methodology
The key to maintaining good relations with residents in treatment areas is to provide them with adequate pre-notification of scheduled spray dates. Though little preparation is required for the safe application of these chemicals, many people chose to take extra precautions to assure themselves of the welfare of their family and pets. Proper timing of chemical application to turf is critical to achieving eradication of JB. Consumer grade white grub insecticides were used because they are persistent and have a relatively low toxicity to beneficial arthropods and earthworms. Integration of impervious surface data in a geographical information system (GIS) was important factor in accurately estimating treatment cost estimates. Parcel data was also used in GIS to plan and guide the treatment process.  

IV) Legislative Authority (Insect Infestation Emergency Control Act 4-35-1)
Because Japanese beetle is a pest of great economic consequence, in 2007 UDAF established the JB Decision and Action Committee. The committee approved UDAF eradication plans for the JB and the department declared a state of emergency according to the Insect Infestation Emergency Control Act (Utah State Code 4-35-1 through 4-35-9). On May 17, 2007 UDAF commissioner notified the public of the state emergency by press release. Preceding the media announcement were extensive public outreach efforts including 2,400 letters mailed to impacted Orem residents containing a copy of the Official Notice of an Insect Infestation Emergency Declaration, a letter from the commissioner, and a letter from Orem City Mayor, Jerry Washburn. Lastly, without the Japanese beetle quarantine (R-68-15) excluding this pest would be impossible. The quarantine primarily regulates the movement of soil commonly found in ornamental plants and sod originating from JB infested states.

V) Non-lapsing Fund
Emergency funds are available for the UDAF Commissioner to allocate in situations where timeliness is critical to a project’s success. Such funds enable a timely procurement process that results in the protection of agricultural and or natural resources. Also, in many cases timely and available funding allows for important projects to act proactively thus preventing the need for large and subsequently expensive projects to occur.

Important Lessons Learned
1) Costs saved by inadequate detection trap surveillance are not worth the subsequent long term expense of large eradication efforts.
2) Never underestimate the value of an informed citizenry. This infestation was found by a concerned citizen. 
3) Grassroots community organizations: Orem City (Neighborhoods in Action), and Utah County Extension Service, were pivotal in combating erroneous information generated by a few individuals who were antagonistic toward this project.
4) Integrating GIS technology into the eradication efforts served critical functions in the following aspects of the program: Outreach, Detection, and Treatment.
5) Success in future eradication programs is dependent upon positive public sentiment towards the project. The public’s understanding of the importance of agricultural issues is paramount to the ultimate success of future projects but also to agricultural viability in general.  A carefully constructed communications plan must be created by key community members that functions to combat erroneous and damaging information in social and conventional media.










posted: February 18, 2015