CDA Bugged by Japanese Beetle and Spotted Lanternfly This Summer

By Rich Guggenheim, Plant Health Certification Program Manager, Colorado Department of Agriculture

Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) Seed and Nursery programs had a busy summer with some new developments. Not only do I want you to be aware of this new information, I am asking you to digest it, keep it on your radar, and provide me with your thoughts and feedback regarding what CDA can do to work on your behalf.

About These Two Pests

This summer, I attended training in Pennsylvania and learned quite a bit about the infamous Spotted Lanternfly (SLF). CDA has a new website dedicated to informing the public with the goal of keeping it out of Colorado. While the pest has been reported throughout Colorado, to date, it has not been confirmed. Please be on the lookout! It poses a significant risk to ornamental horticulture and the landscape industry, as well as to peach and grape growers on the Western Slope. The key to winning the battle against SLF is the same as what I outline below in our response to the next thing that has “bugged” us this summer.

In July, our trapping program detected a reproducing population of Japanese Beetle in Grand Junction. The beetle was detected in traps at a local nursery. CDA quickly responded by placing additional traps and initiated an Early Detection and Rapid Response plan. Our partners in this response are the City of Grand Junction, Mesa County Weed and Pest and Colorado State University Extension. Each agency plays a critical role in our early detection efforts, and, hopefully, eradication.

Investigations conducted by CDA at several nurseries in Grand Junction found no evidence that any quarantines or rules were violated. The trapping, along with compliance on behalf of the industry, are a testament to the success of the Japanese Beetle program and the quarantine on the Western Slope. We theorize that the beetle likely came in through a homeowner who imported nursery stock from an area outside the quarantine. This is where we must rely on you – the industry professionals, and our partners at CSU Extension – to educate the public about buying locally.

This news about the Japanese beetle, brings up some questions I want industry input on:

  • What is the impact of this on the nursery industry?
  • What will this do to your ability to export?
  • With the beetle now on the Western Slope, what is the need for, and state of, the quarantine?
  • Who is benefiting from the quarantine?
  • What is the cost of the quarantine? Who pays it?
  • What happens if this quarantine goes away?
  • What happens if Colorado becomes a Category 3 state?

I believe that eradication is possible in Grand Junction, but we need to protect the industry. To do that, we need to have conversations and arm ourselves with facts to make the right decisions moving forward.

Help CDA and Others Help You

The key to success in eradicating this and future invasive pests is a model that is built on the following key principles:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Cooperation

The industry plays a big role in this effort to keep invasives at bay. Let’s work together and ensure collaboration. Stay informed on the latest invasive pests, share what you have learned with others, bring ideas to the table.

Communicate with and educate your customers about the potential threat. We are no strangers to the economic and environmental damage invasive pets can do. The more you know and the more you share that knowledge with your customers, the more likely we are to detect a pest early, which makes successful eradication more likely. Listen to your customers also. They often come to you first when they see something wrong with their plants. You can report invasive insects on our Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) website.

Cooperate. This is not an us-versus-them scenario! I encourage you to work together with your elected officials and industry partners to develop an effective plan to educate, detect and respond to invasive pests.

Education and outreach are the most important things I learned from the Japanese Beetle detection in Grand Junction and the Spotted Lanternfly threat. I encourage you to use your voice in calling for support of CSU Extension in educating the public about invasive pests in Colorado. The need for public funding of applied research in detecting and managing invasive pests may be greater now than it has ever been.

CDA Changes May Apply to You

Last, what’s moving me? You may have noticed changes happening regarding the way you interact with the nursery program at CDA. “Snail mail” you get from us has decreased substantially. We no longer send paper invoices. They are sent to the email address we have on file for you. Please check your spam folder, and make sure we have your current email address! The move away from paper to online interactions applies to all future communications, including how to renew registration or apply for a new license. This effort helps us be more sustainable and manage increasing costs without increasing fees.

With renewal season upon us, make sure to renew early. I am sure your costs have gone up, and one way to control your costs is to renew by Feb. 28 and avoid paying late fees. Registration fees double March 1. Renewals and payment are easy to complete online – our preferred method – and it’s fastest way to renew. As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback. You can reach me at or 720-614-3233. I look forward to getting out of the office more and meeting many of you in person this spring.