WSDA starts lawn treatments to control Japanese Beetle populations in residential areas

GRANDVIEW, Wash. — Just a few years ago, Japanese beetles were not commonly found in the Western United States. In fact, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) says they only found a few of them each year, and when they did, it was typically in a pathway location like an airport.

So when they found hundreds of Japanese beetles in a residential yard in Grandview, WA, it was an astonishing discovery.

“We posted on our social media page for Invasive Species week,” said Amber Betts, Media Relations Coordinator with WSDA. “We said ‘Hey, Grandview! Have you guys seen any of these beetles?’

“And this homeowner, Melodie, she sent in a picture of these beetles completely devouring her roses,” Betts said. “So when we thought we thought, you know, three or four here in town, there was a lot more than we thought.”

RELATED: Japanese beetle infestation threatens Yakima Valley growers

Melodie Smith, a long-time Grandview resident, noticed the beetles in her roses in 2021. She used traps and caught more than 1,000 of the invasive pests in her garden.

“They make it so that I can’t leave a rose out,” Smith said. “If I don’t cut it and take it inside, by the morning, all the petals are gone. It’s really frustrating.”

It’s destructive feeding like this that makes Japanese beetles so dangerous to the area.

“If they ever were to get into the fields, it would be pretty devastating to our agricultural community,” Betts said.

In 2021, the WSDA’s survey found a total of 24,000 Japanese Beetles in the area.

RELATED: WSDA offers insecticide to Grandview property owners to eradicate Japanese beetles

This year, the public will see a new step toward the eradication of Japanese beetles in the area. The WSDA has mapped out a 49-mile perimeter around Grandview that spans between Yakima and Benton counties. Residential yards qualify for a spray treatment that is harmless to humans, pets, and livestock, but targets the larva of the invasive beetles.

“It pretty much paralyzes them,” said Camilo Acosta, Japanese Beetle Eradication Coordinator with WSDA. “That will target the grubs that are going to hatch in the summer and be very, very hungry. So they’ll ingest that active ingredient.”

The treatment is a quick process, taking less than 30 minutes to treat a front and back yard. This was demonstrated by the WSDA on Monday, May 9.

“It really is a community effort,” Smith said. “If I do it, and if they do it, and they do it—everyone around me does it, then there’s a much less chance that this beetle will keep coming back.”

To learn more about the residential Japanese Beetle Treatment plan by the WSDA, click here.