Japanese beetles have been found in Richland as an infestation of invasive, crop-eating insects continues to grow in central Washington.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture confirmed Thursday that the insect was found in Richland, about 35 miles east of a proposed quarantine area in Grandview, according to a news release. Japanese beetles were found Wednesday in Wapato, about 30 miles west of Grandview.
“Finding two detections so far from the original grid in two distinct directions suggests that the Japanese beetle population is spreading very rapidly,” Camilo Acosta, Japanese beetle eradication project coordinator, said in the statement. “The longer the invasive pest continues to thrive here, the more difficult and expensive it will be to control it.”
Officials are urging growers in the area to monitor the beetles and consult crop protection specialists or a WSU extension for help.
Japanese beetles eat over 300 types of plants, including roses, grapes, and hops. Adult beetles damage plants by skeletonizing leaves. Their appearance is a major concern in the high-value agricultural areas of central Washington.
A WSDA Pest Control Program trapper was doing a routine check Thursday afternoon in Richland and was surprised to find a beetle so far from the infestation area, the statement said. The trap produced a single beetle, and teams immediately began setting more traps.
A Grandview resident first noticed the beetles on her roses in 2020. The state trapped about 24,000 beetles around Grandview in 2021, and about 8,300 have been found this year.
Efforts to stop the pest
The state has worked to eradicate the pest and enforce a quarantine around Grandview.
Lawn care services company Senske began spraying an insecticide to kill beetle larvae this spring in a 3,100-acre area centered around Grandview with permission from residents.
A public hearing on a proposed quarantine zone around Grandview is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 2. Residents can join at The Learning Center, 313 Division St., Grandview, or online.
“After the summer flying season, the WSDA will determine whether emergency rulemaking may be necessary to expand this proposed quarantine to include additional areas of infestation,” the statement said.
The state will host a virtual open house for residents at 6 p.m. on August 4 and a virtual meeting for area growers at noon on August 9. Links to both meetings can be found on the WSDA’s Japanese beetle website.
how to help
People are encouraged to set traps, which are available at home supply stores, and report sightings to the WSDA online. Japanese beetle adults are metallic green and brown and have small tufts of white hair on the sides. They emerge, usually from lawns or other soils, in the spring and feed throughout the summer.
People can also limit the spread by not moving plants or soil from their property that could harbor the beetles.
“We also urge you to leave your potted plants or treat them with an appropriate insecticide before leaving the area,” Acosta added.
Garden waste site
People in the infestation area are encouraged to use a new yard waste drop-off site at 875 Bridgeview Road in Grandview. The site is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and there is no disposal fee, the WSDA said.
To enter the gated yard trash drop area, residents must show identification and proof of residency in the infestation area. Accepted documents include utility or water bills that match ID or driver’s license.
Items accepted for deposit include brush, branches and roots; leaves; grass clippings; fruit and vegetable garnishes; weeds; flowers; plants; shrubs; grass; stumps if the roots are attached; and topsoil containing plant material.