Kloten enforces watering ban and green waste lockdown over invasive beetle
Authorities in Kloten have instituted a lawn watering ban and green waste lockdown, after several adult Japanese beetles were discovered by the local council (Gemeinde), the first time the animal has been spotted north of the Alps. While small, the critters are a major problem as they are highly destructive and can be extremely expensive to contain.
Japanese beetles found in Kloten, Switzerland
In an emergency press conference on July 25, local authorities in the city announced a raft of measures designed to combat the spread of the Japanese beetle, after four adult specimens were discovered at the Stighag football facility earlier this month. For Switzerland, this is the first time the invasive species has spread beyond Canton Ticino. It's currently unclear how the beetle found itself in Kloten, although some have speculated it may have come from the nearby airport.
At the conference, the deputy head of the landscape and nature office for Canton Zurich, Ursina Wiedmer, declared the whole town a “focus of infestation.” They have now placed insecticide and traps around the football facility and will be constantly monitoring the situation from now on.
Why are Japanese beetles so bad?
Authorities explained that the Japanese beetle is a highly destructive pest that devastates farmland and kills crops by eating the leaves they use to photosynthesise. They are known to eat over 300 types of plant, including fruit, vegetables, grass and even vines used for wine. Once established, the insect is also extremely expensive to contain, and near-impossible to get rid of completely.
The outbreak is the first north of the mountains - 20 Minuten noted that officials in other northern European nations are now looking on with concern and preparing their own plans, should Kloten fail to contain the spread.
A researcher at the Agroscope Research Centre, Giselher Grabenweger, told the newspaper that it is vital that the spread is contained in the next few weeks while the beetles still number in the hundreds. Deputy Mayor of Kloten Regula Käser-Stöckli added that “the whole of Europe is looking at Kloten. Everyone's looking to see if we can get rid of the Japanese beetle."
Kloten institutes new rules to contain Japanese beetle
With immediate effect, all residents of Kloten have been banned from watering lawns and green areas until September 30. Wiedmer explained that the beetle lays its eggs in wet soil, so depriving them of wet green spaces can slow their spread.
In addition, to stop the beetle from spreading beyond Kloten, no “green waste” may be transported out of the city. This ban also includes compost, plants with roots in soil and potted plants. All soil dug for construction work must also be kept within city limits.
Alongside the public measures, authorities will be laying insecticide-treated nets and traps across Kloten. if any fruits or vegetables are coated in the insecticide, residents are encouraged to wait three weeks before eating them, although the insecticide is not harmful to pets or humans. Locals are also encouraged to not use improvised insecticides or traps of their own, and to not disturb the ones brought in by the council.