3,000 traps set up around town to fight Japanese beetle infestation

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - There's a new infestation of bugs in the Treasure Valley that can destroy your grass, plants and flowers. The Idaho Department of Agriculture said last year it caught close to 3,000 Japanese Beetles in traps around the valley, which classifies the problem as an infestation.

This year, the department has put up 3,000 traps, which is more than twice the amount of traps they set up last year. The traps, which are green and yellow, helps to determine the population of beetles in the area, and helps the department decide how to best treat the infestation to keep it from getting worse.

The traps are sprinkled around town, and are more concentrated along the greenbelt, in the Warm Springs area, and on State Street. However, the traps are also popping up in downtown Boise as well.

But when it comes to knowing what they're actually for? That's anyone's guess.

"I think they're for like bugs maybe," Boise resident Josephine Ngo said.

"I think it like traps bees," Erin McCroskey said. "It looks like those bee traps."

"Trap for mosquitoes," Cindy McCroskey guessed.

"To me, when I first saw it I would have thought it would have been like a hornet catcher," Kayleigh Caldwell said. "Kind of looks like those same kinds of traps."

"I think it's a bird feeder," Boise resident Rebecca Caffrey guessed.

You get the idea. Not many people actually know what the traps are for. The only correct guess came from someone who lives in Virginia.

"This trap is (for) Japanese Beetles, which is a troublemaker which destroys vegetation around here," Anas Elmahdi said.

Many in the Boise are aren't familiar with the Japanese Beetle, but the Idaho Department of Agriculture said they are becoming more common in the Treasure Valley and that people should be aware of them.

"Five or six years ago we might have found one beetle, two beetles, and that didn't really qualify as an infestation," spokesman Lloyd Knight said. "Last year we found several thousand beetles in the area, so to us that's an infestation."

Knight said he isn't definitively sure where the beetles are coming from, although it's likely the insects were brought into the state in infected nursery stock from other areas of the country. He added that the department is being strict on which plants are being allowed into the state as a result.

This year, the department is also spending $400,000 to treat the beetle infestation. That money is spent on the 3,000 traps and treating the affected areas with insecticides and pesticides before the problem gets worse.

"If we weren't doing an eradication program, at some point the population would come to such that people would see significant damage to turf and plant life at home," Knight said. "You would see a spread of beetles in the agricultural areas as well so agricultural producers would have to deal with that."

The Idaho Department of Agriculture says it won't start seeing beetles in the traps likely until late June. The department said the traps will give them an idea of how many beetles they're dealing with this year compared to last year.

Knight also said an infestation like this can be controlled, although it may take anywhere from three to five years to get rid of the entire population.

If you start seeing these beetles where you live, but don't see any traps up, call the Idaho Department of Agriculture.