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Greenhouse Grower Notes: January 2007 1

January 21, 2008  By Graeme Murphy and Wayne Brown

Dealing with the Japanese Beetle: what are a grower’s obligations? This beetle has a varied appetite, feeding on more than 300 different plant species, including many important ornamentals.

You didn’t have to look too far in the Niagara region last summer to know that Japanese beetles have made themselves comfortably at home. At about the same time that the populations were peaking in July, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) came out with their revised directive (D-96-15) on this pest. The title is Phytosanitary Requirements to Prevent the Spread of Japanese Beetle, Popillia japonica in Canada and the United States. Soon after this, growers started hearing from CFIA inspectors about the new requirements, and then we started hearing from growers. This article will try to explain the revised directive and what it means for Canadian growers.

For a start, a little history.


Japanese beetle (JB) is native to Japan (surprisingly). It was first found in North America in 1916 in New Jersey and its first Canadian record was in 1939 in Nova Scotia. Despite many attempts to eradicate it, JB has managed to survive in Canada and there are now populations in Nova Scotia, Québec and Ontario. As many eastern Canada homeowners can attest, the beetle has a varied appetite, feeding on more than 300 different plant species, including many important ornamental species.

Canada and the U.S. have categorized the various provinces and states according to their JB status:
•    Category 1 is a pest-free area. In Canada, the only province in this category is B.C. In the U.S., a number western states are also in this category including, California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Idaho.

•    Category 2 is an area of low pest prevalence, including all of the Maritime provinces in Canada. In the U.S., many of the southern and Midwest states fall into this category.

•    Category 3 is classed as partially or generally infested. This includes Ontario and Québec, and most of the eastern seaboard in the U.S.

•    Category 4 is an area not known to be infested and is unregulated. These are usually areas where the beetle could not survive outdoors, such as the Prairie provinces and the Territories. Two U.S. states, Florida and Montana, are in this category.

For a complete listing of the provinces and states falling within these categories, refer to the directive on the CFIA website (below).

What do these categories mean for Canadian growers? In very simplistic terms you can only ship product into areas with an equal or higher category number than where it was grown (unless certain management practices are followed as detailed below).

So for B.C. growers (who are in Category 1), product can be shipped anywhere in Canada without regard to JB. If the product is grown in a Category 2 area (the Maritimes), it can be shipped anywhere within Canada except B.C. And from Ontario and Québec (Category 3), product can only be shipped into Category 3 and 4 areas – unless the growers meet specific requirements to minimize the risk of shipping JB along with their plants. The main exception to these limits is for plants that are grown outside the JB adult flight period, which is from June 15 to Sept. 30 (the entire plant production cycle must be outside this period).

This is the part where most of the growers’ questions begin. The criteria that growers must follow to allow them to ship to any areas in Canada or the U.S. may seem at first glance to be onerous, and there has been concern expressed about how these will be met. However, they are not as bad as they seem and in many cases, growers are already meeting these standards, e.g. use of soilless growing media.

There are several categories of programs that can apply depending on the crops being grown and exported. Those most likely to apply to greenhouse growers include:

Japanese Beetle Free Greenhouse/ Screenhouse Program. This contains the most rigorous standards, but it is also the one least likely to be required for most growers. It is only for those growers whose export crops include grasses and sedges (which are highly favoured hosts of JB). In this case, there will be considerable work required for most growers. For example, the greenhouse/screenhouse must be constructed so that JB cannot enter. Double-door entries must be installed, as well as screening on all vents and other openings.
Japanese Beetle Greenhouse Plant Program. This program will be the one most likely to be needed by exporting greenhouse growers. For growers already on the CFIA Greenhouse Plants Certification Program, there will not be a big change needed. The one that is causing the most concern is the need for a three-metre (10 ft) vegetation-free border around the greenhouse to serve as a barrier against JB. This barrier can be plastic, gravel, landscape cloth or hard-packed clay. If the greenhouse has no sidewall vents or those vents are screened, then this border needs to be only one metre. If growers are growing grasses or sedges, but they are not going to be exported (although other plant material is), they will need to be separated from plants grown for export. (Contact your local CFIA officer for advice in this case).

Japanese Beetle Containerized Nursery Stock Program. This is for those growers exporting plant material that has been grown outside. This could include plants such as fall mums and pansies, hydrangeas and calluna. The main change here that growers will have to make is to leave a three-metre vegetation-free border around the container growing area.

The above are not the only criteria that must be met, however, they are the ones of most concern. For more details of requirements, read the Directive on the CFIA website.

There is one other point that must be mentioned. Growers must apply to CFIA by April 1, 2007, for inclusion in one or more of these programs. The application process consists of completing the applicable JB application form and providing a written Japanese Beetle Management Plan. This is the sort of statement that comes with inbuilt heart palpitations for most growers. Luckily, the reality of what has to be included and how it is presented is not nearly as difficult as what many growers believe.

Next month, (in plenty of time to meet the April 1 deadline), we will discuss how a Management Plan can be put together, what needs to be included and how it can be presented.

For more information, visit the CFIA website at You can find the JB Directive or contact details for your local CFIA office if you have questions for them.

Graeme Murphy is the greenhouse floriculture IPM specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at Vineland. • 905-562-4141, ext. 106; graeme.murphy@
Wayne Brown is the greenhouse floriculture specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, University of Guelph, in Vineland. • 905-562-4141, ext. 179;

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