Following the discovery of two Japanese beetles in two years, Port Coquitlam is obliged to foot the bill for a treatment designed to rid the city of the very hungry insects, according to a report submitted to council Tuesday.

With an estimated cost of $12,000, the ministry-mandated project is an unfair burden on the city, according to Coun. Steve Darling.

“We’re spending $12,000 on something that we may not even need to do,” Darling said. “Especially when we talk about partnerships and the partnership is: we have to spend it. That’s not much of a partnership.”

Previously, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture would issue a “notice to treat” to a municipality after two Japanese beetles were found within 200 metres of each other. However, in order to avoid chasing the problem, the ministry recently reduced that threshold to a single beetle.

Discussing the issue with the city’s environmental co-ordinator Scott Walmsley, Darling objected to the switch.

“You can’t change the rules in midstream and expect everyone to pay for it,” Darling said. “Why should we have to undergo $12,000 when we didn’t have a beetle last year?”

“We didn’t have a beetle detection last year,” Walmsley responded. “We don’t know if we didn’t have a beetle.”

The Japanese beetle larvae feeds on the roots of plants and turf, the adults feed on the flowers, fruit and leaves of about 250 host plants.

Left uncontrolled, the species could have devastating impacts on B.C.’s agriculture, horticulture and arboriculture industries, according to a city staff report.

Help!

To get rid of Port Coquitlam’s population of invasive beetles, a city contractor is expected to apply larvicide to approximately 25,000 square metres (2.5 hectares) of parkland and boulevards as well as the turf at Terry Fox High School.

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Treatments are set to be administered in May or June. Treatments around schools would likely take place on weekends or Pro-D days, according to Walmsley.

The total cost to the city is expected to be $12,000.

The ministry is slated to ask area property owners to treat their turf with larvicide. Those treatments would be paid for by the ministry.

image supplied

The larvicide, acelepryn, doesn’t affect birds, bees, butterflies or other animals, according to a city staff report. However, it does kill other “pest insects” including European chafer beetles, according to Walmsley.

“It would be good if we could get both of them,” Coun. Nancy McCurrach said.

With the beetles

The first Japanese beetle found in Port Coquitlam was snagged in a trap near Terry Fox High School in 2020. The other was caught near Pitt River Road and Routley Avenue in 2021.

Following treatment, rocket traps will be hung from trees. The yellow and green traps are equipped with a pheromone that attracts beetles.

If the traps stay empty for two consecutive years, Japanese beetles will be considered eradicated.