Beetle Battle Protecting Palisade Produce

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

The outcome of a beetle battle could have a huge impact on the local economy and prices at the grocery store.

Mesa County has been trapping Japanese Beetles to protect crops for the last five years and says if they lose the battle it could be devastating for local farmers.

It's hard to believe tiny bugs, smaller than a dime, can destroy acres of crops and devastate the local economy but entemologists say it's a big problem for farmers.

Farmers like Brant Harrison of Kokopelli Produce. He says if Mesa County loses the beetle battle, it could be the end of organic peaches in Palisade.

But county officials say It's not just peaches, the bugs eat and destroy grapes, roses, and even your lawn.

And that's why the county waged a war on the insects in 2003. Debbie Bulmer is head of the Japanese Beetle eradication program. She says that year she trapped 1300 of them.

Bulmer says protecting crops from the beetles can mean hundreds of dollars for extra insecticide. She says that in combination with lost crops killed by the bugs could be passed from the farmer to the consumer. Another economic impact Bulmer cites, is trickle down losses to agrotourism.

Mesa County will continues to trap and kill the insects and looking at the numbers, it's working. There were only 47 Japanese Beetles last year down from 1,300. However, Bulmer says its still to many. She says the goal of the beetle eradication program is to have a zero count for two years in a row.

The county says the beetles haven't got into the orchards yet and are centered in downtown, so we aren't seeing a major economic impact.
County officials will trap again in May.

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