British Columbia

Invasive Japanese beetle battle ramps up again in Vancouver starting next week

The ravenous intruder was first discovered in B.C. around Vancouver's False Creek in 2017, with the epicentre of the invasion at David Lam Park.

For a 3rd consecutive year, parks and foliage will be treated for the ravenous intruder

The Vancouver park board will begin a third year of treatments in city parks and green spaces to try and prevent the invasive Japanese beetle from spreading. (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

The annual battle against the invasive Japanese beetle is set to begin anew in Vancouver next Monday when larvicide treatment starts in 30 parks and other city land.

The ravenous intruder was first discovered in B.C. around Vancouver's False Creek in 2017, with the epicentre of the invasion located at David Lam Park.

The beetle feeds on the roots of grass and the foliage of more than 300 plant species, including fruit, vegetables and agricultural crops. It ultimately causes the plants to die.

Adult beetles can fly long distances, and spread to agricultural areas of the Fraser Valley could be devastating.

This is the third consecutive year for the springtime treatments in Vancouver.

They appear to be working.

Park board workers sprayed the insecticide Acelepryn, which targets the larvae of Japanese beetles, at David Lam Park on Sunday April 7, 2019. (CBC)

In 2019, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency trapped 1,157 Japanese beetles, a decline of 85 per cent from 2018 when the agency caught 8,276.

Treatment will begin at David Lam Park and continue for seven weeks at parks in the West End, Downtown, Strathcona, Mount Pleasant, Fairview and Kitsilano neighbourhoods. 

In addition to mandatory treatment areas, the park board is also considering treating Quilchena, Prince of Wales, and Carnarvon parks after finding a single beetle near each last year.

In total, approximately 50 hectares of city and park lands will be treated, ranging from large public turf areas to small strips of grass, shrubs, trees, medians and boulevards. 

Trained staff will be applying the product Acelepryn directly to the soil to target root-eating grubs. The park board claims the product will not impact people, pets, mammals, birds, bees, butterflies or other animals.

In David Lam Park, a bio-insecticide called beetleGONE! will also be applied to plants and tree foliage to control adult beetles feeding on these plants. The product is based on a naturally-occurring bacteria found in soil that becomes toxic once ingested by beetles. 

Adult Japanese beetles are around 10 mm long, metallic green and have bronze-coloured wings. Their larvae are C-shaped, white and have a yellowish-brown head. (David Cappaert/Bugwood.org/Province of British Columbia)

Residents are asked to avoid parks and green spaces during treatment and pay attention to signs at each site.

It is anticipated that treatment will continue for several years.

The city of Vancouver is opening a temporary transfer station for green waste to help eradicate the invasive past, which is known to destroy agricultural crops, orchards and vegetable gardens.

The CFIA's restrictions on moving plant material and soil from the downtown and False Creek area remain in place. 

It means residents and landscapers have restrictions around moving rooted plants and soil away from the area.

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