Mesa County recently announced an eradication plan to address the Japanese Beetle infestation. This article will inform and educate our local community on the Mesa County Japanese Beetle Eradication Plan, the impact of Japanese Beetles on agriculture, and effective natural, biological, and organic prevention strategies for farmers and gardeners.
Japanese Beetles: An Invasive Pest
Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica) are invasive pests from Asia, first detected in the United States in the early 1900s. They cause significant damage to a wide range of crops and ornamental plants, as adult beetles feed on foliage and flowers, while the grubs feed on turfgrass roots.
Mesa County Eradication Plan
The county has outlined an eradication plan that includes:
- Grub control treatments for public parks and properties within the infestation area.
- Educational support from Colorado State University Extension Services.
- Trapping and monitoring by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
Japanese Beetles feed on over 300 plant species, with some crops being more vulnerable than others. Most vulnerable crops include fruit trees (e.g., apples, peaches, cherries), small fruits (e.g., raspberries, blueberries, grapes), vegetables (e.g., corn, beans, asparagus), and ornamental plants (e.g., roses, linden trees). In Mesa County, fruit trees and small fruits are particularly at risk due to the region's thriving fruit production industry.
Natural, Biological, and Organic Solutions
An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan utilizing natural, biological, and organic methods can help effectively prevent, mitigate, and eradicate Japanese Beetles. Here is a seasonal IPM plan with weekly tasks and their specific functions:
Spring (April - June):
- Apply beneficial nematodes (e.g., Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) to control grub populations.
- Release predatory insects, such as parasitic wasps, to control adult beetle populations.
- Apply Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae (Btg) as a biological pesticide.
Summer (July - August):
- Hand-pick adult beetles during early morning or late evening and dispose of them in soapy water.
- Use pheromone traps to monitor and reduce adult beetle populations (place traps at least 30 feet away from susceptible plants).
- Apply kaolin clay as a barrier to protect plants from adult beetles.
Fall (September - November):
- Continue to release beneficial nematodes and predatory insects.
- Apply compost or organic matter to improve soil health and encourage natural predators of grubs, such as birds and ground beetles.
- Monitor plants for signs of Japanese Beetle damage and take action as needed.
Winter (December - March):
- Prune and remove any damaged or infested plant material.
- Clean and sanitize gardening tools to prevent the spread of pests.
- Plan for the upcoming growing season by selecting resistant plant varieties and implementing crop rotation.