Invasive Japanese beetle devouring plants in Ontario

The Japanese beetle is destroying plants across Windsor Essex, thriving on hot sunny summer weather.

Beetlemania Gone Bad

10 years ago
Duration 2:01
The Japanese beetle is devouring plants across Windsor-Essex County.

The Japanese beetle is destroying plants across Windsor Essex.

The insect thrives in hot sunny summer weather so this year has been particularly good for the beetle but bad for farmers and gardeners.

Japanese beetles eat the leaves of plants but leave the fruit alone.

Bernard Gorski, the owner of Colchester Ridge Estate Winery, said the bug is threatening his livelihood.

He said he is seeing more beetles this year than any before. He has already sprayed his vineyard three times in an effort to rid his property of the bug.

"They've just stripped the top leaves," he said. "They've not done any serious damage as of yet. But if we leave them unattended, they will destroy the vineyard.

"I've got over 12 acres and I'm sure there were millions of bugs in there at one point in time."

The beetle starts off as a grub. Health Canada says this is the most difficult lawn pest to deal with.

Chris Wilbur works at Maidstone Tree Farm. He has had several customers come in with the same problem this year. Even he is battling the beetle.

"They eat the roots of the grass so if you have a lot of them you're going to have patches of your grass that are brown," he said.

Although homeowners can't use the government approved insecticide Gorski used on his plants, Japanese beetle traps are available at retail stores. However, the demand this year has outstripped the supply and few stores have any left.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Japanese beetle is native to the main islands of Japan, and was first discovered in North America in southern New Jersey in 1916.

The first Japanese beetle found in Canada was in a tourist's car at Yarmouth, arriving in Nova Scotia by ferry from Maine in 1939.