P.E.I. plant traffic blocked for Japanese beetle

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has slapped new restrictions on the movement of all plants, including plants with soil, off Prince Edward Island in a bid to contain the Japanese beetle.

The Japanese beetle is an invasive pest that’s most commonly spread when people move infested plants, CFIA said in a release Friday.

The new restrictions mean these “regulated materials” can’t be moved from P.E.I. to a province that is not regulated for the pest, unless the party moving the plant gets prior approval from CFIA. Fines and/or prosecution await anyone caught moving plants without CFIA approval, the agency said.

However, plants can be freely moved within the province and to other provinces already regulated for the pest, which so far include Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec, CFIA said.

CFIA first found Japanese beetles in P.E.I. last year through a plant pest survey it completed in the fall. The survey pointed to an “established population” of the beetle, which led CFIA to put regulatory control measures in place for the province.

The Japanese beetle attacks roots, foliage and fruit on over 250 host plants, including corn, asparagus, grape, apple, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, elm, maple, roses and zinnias, CFIA said. Japanese beetle larvae favour turf grass as their host material, while adults feed on the leaves and fruit of a “wide variety” of host plants.

The beetle is native to the main islands of Japan, but is hardly new to North America. It was first discovered on this continent in New Jersey in 1916 and first recorded in Canada at Yarmouth, N.S., in 1939.

Apart from the four provinces now restricted for Japanese beetle, the pest is also found in over 30 states. Among states bordering with Canada, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Alaska are still considered “non-infested.”

The beetle has been detected in Washington state, but an infestation hasn’t been confirmed. Other states such as Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire and Maine, are considered “partially infested.” New York and Vermont are among the states considered infested.

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