BISMARCK, North Dakota — The state Agriculture Department has urged North Dakotans who buy plants from nurseries to check for Japanese beetles, and wants volunteers to help place traps around the state.
The beetles feast on everything from rose bushes to corn and soybean crops. They're about half an inch long, and metallic green with bronze wing covers. They were first found in Burleigh County in 2001. They turned up again in North Dakota in 2012 and have been found in the state every year since.
Officials don't believe large numbers of the pest are yet in the state and want to keep it that way, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said.
"They have a voracious appetite, so when they start on a plant they can defoliate it," he said. "When you think about how they can attack a soybean plant and start to defoliate it, imagine if you end up with thousands of them in a field or you end up with 100 of them in your own little garden."
Japanese beetles were first found in the U.S. in 1916. They have since spread to every state east of the Mississippi River, as well as to Minnesota, the Dakotas and Montana. They cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in the country annually.
"If you have purchased shrubs, trees or flowers this year, please inspect the plants carefully and remove and kill any Japanese beetles you find," Goehring said.
The Agriculture Department plans to put about 1,900 beetle traps across the state — at least 25 in each county — to survey for the pests.
Volunteering information: http://www.nd.gov/ndda/pest/japanese-beetle
Beetle information: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/pests/e1631.pdf