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Fight against Japanese beetle coming to a close



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OREM -- The state says a fight against Japanese beetles in Orem is almost over. In their latest check of the beetle traps, they only found four beetles.

"We've been able to eradicate this beetle from a large portion of Orem and we are just focusing down into a small area that they've been at for at least four years that we know of," said Utah Department of Agriculture Entomologist Clint Burfitt.

The Japanese beetle is a federally quarantined insect, meaning other states would stop accepting many agricultural products from Utah if the pest wasn't contained and eliminated.

"The Japanese beetle adults feed on a lot of the agricultural products created in this state, but then we would also lose markets. Our growers would not be able to ship certain commodities outside of the state," said Burfitt.

The state estimates not getting rid of the bugs could have meant a loss of around $120 million a year in agricultural sales. Not to mention anyone in an infected area would be paying yearly to spray their own yards if they wanted to grow flowers or have a garden or fruit trees.

The beetles are a significant threat to Utah's ornamental and turf grass industries, as well as much of the fruit grown in the state. That's why the state started an aggressive spraying program as soon as the beetles were detected in Orem in 2006.

Every year since then, the area in which the beetles have been found has grown smaller. The state was going to do some more spraying in August in the small area where the four beetles were found, but since all the beetles were male they decided additional spraying this year isn't needed.

If no Japanese Beetles are found next over the next three to five years, the state can officially say the pests have been eradicated.

There is a detection program for the Japanese beetle all around the state to keep an eye out for any other potential infestations.

E-mail: rjeppesen@ksl.com

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Randall Jeppesen

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