The Japanese beetle is an important pest of both landscape and crops. Since its introduction into Kansas it has continued to slowly spread across the state with the primary infestations being in Northeast Kansas and the Wichita area. The primary means of spread has been through the movement of infested nursery stock, the original infestation coming into Kansas in this manner. Attempts to trap out infestations have proven unsuccessful.
In the spring of 2007 the Kansas Dept. of Agriculture sent two staff members to Michigan to collect grubs infected with the protozoan, Ovavesicula popilliae for release in Kansas. Four sites were chosen in Northeast Kansas for the release of over 1,000 grubs. Northeast Kansas was chosen because of the high population of beetles in the area. It is hoped that if the protozoan becomes established that beetles can be collected and distributed to other areas of the state infested with Japanese beetles. In other states where the parasite has become established there has been up to a 50% reduction in the beetle population due to the parasite. Coupled with a natural mortality of 20% or more we hope to achieve up to a 70% mortality rate in beetle density.