Nova Scotia

Halifax's beetle battle continues

Halifax's war on bugs is being fought on two fronts: federal inspectors are still trying to eliminate the brown spruce longhorn beetle, and now, they are also trying to wipe out the new kid on the block, the Japanese beetle.

Halifax's war on bugs is being fought on two fronts: federal inspectors are still trying to eliminate the brown spruce longhorn beetle, and now, they are also trying to wipe out the new kid on the block, the Japanese beetle.

Cornwallis Park in Halifax is ground zero for the latest beetle invasion, the Japanese beetle.

The Japanese beetle eats more than 250 types of plants, everything from ornamentals such as Japanese maples to important export crops such as blueberries.

Experts say the beetle likely arrived here a few years ago through transplants shipped here from out of province.

"It's a relatively new introduction, and because it's very localized, the odds are in favour of eradication," says Dawn Miller-Cormier, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The Japanese beetle is on an international least-wanted list, and that's why the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it has to treat the park this week with pesticides.

"If it gets out of hand, it could mean trade restrictions on our products," says Miller-Cormier.

Potential trade restrictions are also the reason Ottawa is spending $5 million a year to try to wipe out the brown spruce longhorn beetle.

Two years ago, that effort began with the cutting of 2,500 trees in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park. This year, hundreds more trees will be cut in suburban Halifax.

"We'll hopefully be able to say in five years that we've eradicated it," says Gregg Cunningham, a spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. "But, it's too soon to predict at this time."

Within two years, all wooden shipping materials entering Canada will have to be heat-treated, which should eliminate the numbers of foreign insects coming into the Port of Halifax.

But, bug experts fear that may not be soon enough to prevent an infestation of the Asian long-horned beetle, whose favourite food is the maple tree.

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