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Quarantine likely due to Japanese beetle infestation in eastern WA, says WSDA official

FILE--In this July 20, 2017, Japanese Beetles decimate the leaf of a Linden tree in Omaha, Neb. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is expanding its effort to squash a Japanese beetle infestation. The agency wants to apply a granular insecticide over 1,900 acres in unincorporated Washington County after thousands of the crop-eating beetles were detected in the summer of 2017. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file)
Nati Harnik/AP
FILE--In this July 20, 2017 photo, Japanese beetles decimate the leaf of a Linden tree in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file)

What does the uptick in beetles mean for growers and gardeners?

The small and shiny invasive Japanese Beetles were first spotted in Washington in the 1980s. Adult beetles devour fruits, flowers, and plants, leaving ghost leaves behind, says Amber Betts, who works for the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

“It’s important to know that this beetle does have the potential to really devastate our crops and our food supply,” says Betts. “And so what we’re doing right now is trying really hard to eliminate that before it happens.”

Betts says the agency has trapped more than 24,000 beetles this year.

The current infestation area of 49 square miles is around Grandview. This includes parts of Yakima and Benton Counties.

Betts says the agency is working toward setting up a quarantine where plants at risk for beetles would be checked. The quarantine is likely to start next month.

Information on how to report Japanese Beetle sightings is on the WSDA website.