The Colorado potato beetle is not established in the Island or the UK but it is prevalent in Normandy, which at its closest point is just 14 miles from Jersey.
If it ever got a foothold here it would devastate the Jersey Royal potato crop, which is worth about £30 million per year. Just one fertilised female Colorado beetle can establish a breeding colony with the potential to destroy a field of potatoes by eating the stems and leaves. It is also partial to other crops including tomatoes, salad produce and parsley, which are all grown in the Island.
Scott Meadows, head of plant health at Environment, said the current local weather conditions, combined with strong easterly winds and high levels of beetle flight over the nearby Normandy coast are putting the Island under threat.
‘When certain climatic thresholds are reached, beaches and potato crops are inspected and farm workers should be made aware of what adult beetles look like,’ he said.
‘The agricultural inspectorate will make coastal checks over the coming days and all Islanders should be vigilant for any arrivals.’
The Colorado potato beetle adult is about 10 mm long and 7 mm wide, and somewhat rounded. Its head and pronotum (which covers the insect’s thorax) are brown-orange to yellow and covered with variously shaped black markings. Ten black lines run the length of the wing covers which otherwise are yellow.
Any sightings should be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance or Environment@gov.je.