Although the Japanese beetle is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it is a pest that causes major eyesores when it comes to budgeting their control. Efforts to manage the Japanese beetle cost an estimated $460 million annually and can potentially cause hundreds of thousands of dollars more in economic losses from their destruction. That is one of the reasons why Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) continues to enforce the Japanese Beetle Program.

The main focus of the program is keeping the Japanese beetle out of the Western states of Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. These states are ones that are still free of Japanese beetles and want to stay that way.

The beetles seem to be creeping westward at the rate of about 6 miles per year. But the greatest concern of regulatory officials is not the natural spread, but the artificial movement of the insects by aircraft that would greatly accelerate that rate. Unfortunately for officials, “the beetles love heat, they love airports,” says program manager Charles Brown. “They will often fly in open doors while cargo planes are being loaded.”

To prevent the further spread, APHIS is working with cargo carriers such as UPS, FedEx Express and Airborne Express to keep the insect out of an aircraft heading westward.

Source: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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