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Oregon fights against largest ever Japanese beetle infestation

Staff Writer | January 28, 2017
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has proposed a multi-year project to eradicate the state’s largest ever Japanese beetle infestation.
Japanese beetle
Pest   Washington County within the city of Portland
The proposal, if approved, would involve the treatment, beginning in April, of approximately a thousand acres and about 2,500 single-family residences in an area of Washington County within the city of Portland.

A record-breaking 369 Japanese beetles were found in traps placed in the area last year as well as numerous live beetles found feeding on roses and other plants in the largely residential area that includes the Cedar Mill and Bonny Slope communities of northwest Portland.

The option of doing nothing about the destructive insect pest could have devastating effects.

The invasive Japanese beetle is a major plant pest in other parts of the US. As a grub, it can be very destructive to turf.

As an adult, the bright metallic green beetle with copper-colored wing covers will feast on a wide variety of plant material including trees, shrubs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

It is a pest that can be destructive in urban and agricultural environments, and is also subject to agricultural quarantine regulations. The beetle has the ability to quickly reproduce and attract small mammals, such as raccoons and skunks, which can also cause turf and lawn damage as the animals search for grubs as a food source.

ODA has been using an early detection, rapid response approach for years to find and eradicate populations of the pest.

In the past, Japanese beetle has made its way into Oregon through air cargo carriers with multiple detections over the years near Portland International Airport.

In recent years, ODA has conducted eradication projects in residential areas of Portland and Cave Junction.

The beetles are usually spread through plant material as people move in from infested areas in other parts of the country. When soil is moved as new residents bring in house plants, as an example, it could be harboring Japanese beetle eggs and larvae.