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'Diabolical Little Creatures': Gardeners Take On Japanese Beetle

DENVER (CBS4) – Backyard gardeners, like Angela Fioretti, are engaged in a war on the invasive Japanese beetle that now infest parts of Colorado.

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"They are diabolical little creatures," she told CBS4 Thursday.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Japanese Beetle Best Practices

The infestation was first reported in the Denver-area in 2010, but the population has exploded in the last three growing seasons. The Colorado Department of Agriculture tracks the infestation and while the beetle shows up all along the front range, the hardest hit cities are Denver, Englewood, and Boulder. The invasive beetle is eating it's way from one irrigated landscape to the next.

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"This is the time of the summer that they really emerge full force from the soil, and they like to eat on a lot of our beautiful landscape plants and our vegetable crops in the garden," said Dan Goldhamer, a horticulture agent with the Colorado State University Extension Office.

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Japanese beetles first showed up in Colorado in 2010. They were brought here on nursery stock shipped from other states. Agriculture officials quickly enacted a quarantine requiring other states to certify its plants are beetle free before they come across the border. The goal was to slow the infestation, and keep these leaf eaters from getting to the Western Slope.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Japanese Beetle Fact Sheet

"They could be a really big danger to our fruit, and vegetable, and wine industry out there," Goldhamer explained.

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Gardeners are now employing some old school methods as they fight back against the bug. Knocking it off into a bucket of soapy water is the least invasive weapon in this war. State agriculture warn against using pheromone traps, they say those attract more beetles to your yard. There are insecticides that will kill the beetle, but state agriculture officials warn against using chemicals that will impact pollinators which may also be visiting your garden.

"To see that many all in one place really creeps me out," Fioretti added.

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