Dozens of Japanese beetles have been identified around North Dakota, including infestations in Grand Forks and West Fargo according to state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.
More than 60 Japanese beetles were found in West Fargo; about a dozen beetles were found in traps around Grand Forks last week, and additional beetles were found in traps in Fargo and Bismarck.
Goehring said, if not controlled, the beetles are a danger to crops and plant life in North Dakota.
“These beetles gravitate to turf and grass, as well as ornamental plants and trees,” Goehring said. “But maybe the biggest concern is their inclination to crops like corn and soybeans. These bugs are vivacious eaters.”
The first groups of beetles were discovered in traps in West Fargo on July 16.
The North Dakota infestation can be traced to Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul, Goehring said.
Because of new fumigating procedures on recent shipments of plants to North Dakota, beetles were able to burrow into the soil of refrigerated plants.
Goehring said the cold temperatures inside refrigerators eliminated the effects of fumigating.
Members of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture are now working with park and recreation departments in each affected city to set up traps and control the infestation.
“We are putting up traps that let off pheromones to attract the beetles, we can then extract them and prevent the establishment of Japanese beetles in North Dakota,” he said.
Discussions over Bailey Nurseries’ fumigating practices also have been made to prevent the importation of further pests.
Goehring said the situation is not bad yet, but if the infestation is not put under control, it could lead to further damage to North Dakota plant life.
“We have identified one adult female, and if there is more out there it could plant eggs and the larva would embed itself into the soil over the winter and feed off of roots,” Goehring said. “They would then hatch in June or July and continue to multiply.”
Goehring said while that is a worst-case scenario, the potential damage a large Japanese beetle infestation could do on North Dakota plant life and crops is motivation to eliminate any threat immediately.
“It is our responsibility to manage, mitigate and provide solutions to this problem,” Goehring said. “We are not trying to alarm, but just make the people aware.”
Japanese beetles were first discovered in the United States in 1916, and are now found in most states east of the Mississippi River, including Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana. Adult beetles are typically a half-inch long and are an emerald green with bronze wing covers.
Page 2 of 2 - Goehring and the Department of Agriculture encourage anyone who spots a Japanese beetle to call (800) 242-7535.