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Those who direct the Japanese beetle-eradication program in Orem are claiming cautious success because no Japanese beetles were caught in traps this year.

Officials from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the U.S. Department of Agriculture say they will not consider the pest infestation to be eradicated until no beetles are detected for three years. This is the first year none were found in traps designed to attract them.

"It is too early to state that we have eradicated the Japanese beetle in Orem, but with zero beetles detected in the hundreds of traps we set up in the area, we are cautiously optimistic that we have attained success," said state entomologist Clint Burfitt. "Technically we cannot claim eradication for another two years."

The program began in 2006 when 675 beetles were detected in a central Orem neighborhood. The following year 2,152 beetles were found, but after an aggressive treatment program beetle numbers dropped significantly. In 2008, less than 100 beetles were detected, while in 2009 there were seven and last year one.

The Japanese beetle feeds on more than 300 species of plants and trees and is capable of inflicting millions of dollars in damage to gardens and lawns, and fruit and shade trees. A prolonged infestation in Utah would have led to a costly quarantine of nursery products grown and sold in the state.

"Our success is a result of widespread citizen cooperation and their recognition of the threat the beetle poses to residential lawns, shrubs, flowers and the state's $100 million greenhouse and nursery industry," said Robert Hougaard, director of the Plant Industry Division.

The state Ag Department will continue monitoring for beetles statewide through next year and beyond. More information about the Japanese beetle is available at

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