BOISE -- A new insect in Idaho has farmers and gardeners concerned, and the Idaho Department of Agriculture is now investigating and looking to stop the Japanese beetle.

The Japanese beetles popped up in the Treasure Valley, specifically in Boise, last year during an annual department survey. Because of how destructive they can be to trees, plants and crops, it's a big concern that the department wants gone as soon as possible.

They're an exotic regulated pests that become an issue in ornamentals, and in berries, and in seed crops and some of those sorts of things. Corn, apples, cherries, grapes, said Lloyd Knight with the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

Infestations are common on the east coast and Knight says it's something no one would want here. For example, if Idaho had an infestation, all trees being shipped out of the state would have to be specially treated.

If left unchecked, you'll see them really start to have a significant impact on not only agricultural productivity but also on the health and vitality of yards and landscaping as well, Knight said.

So far they've been found around Warm Springs Avenue, in the area near Pioneer Cemetery. Knight says the lush grass and trees make it an ideal area for the beetles to hatch.

We haven't found any out in the agricultural area yet. It's kind of unique that we're finding it in the urban area first, Knight said.

To learn more about the beetles, the Department of Agriculture has started putting traps around Warm Springs Avenue. Some are in public areas, while others are on private property with the owner's permission. In the last week, the traps are still out, but they've also moved on to treatment with the goal of eradicating the insects.

So far this year we've found 42 beetles in our traps, Knight said. Any population that's established, obviously they can reproduce and spread, and in the type of delimiting surveys that we're doing, that's an indication there's a population there. We're obviously not catching every beetle that's out there, so we're sure that there's more of a population out there than just the 42.

Department officials say they're getting a better idea of what's out there and how to stop the beetles from infesting valuable crops, trees and gardens, though it may take a bit to get down.

We're imagining this will take at least a couple years to eradicate what we have here, Knight said.

It's too early in the hatching season to tell how bad this year is in terms of numbers, and they'll have to wait a bit and keep checking traps to really know.

If you see one of the hundreds of traps around our state, officials ask you to leave them alone.

The beetles are small and colored green and gold. If you think you spot one in your yard or fields call the Idaho Department of Agriculture at 332-8620.

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