Some Concerned Over Pesticides Used to Eradicate Japanese Beetle

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In an effort to eradicate the invasive Japanese beetle, the California State Department of Food and Agriculture has been spraying pesticides in Carmichael and Fair Oaks.

But one neighbor feels state employees intentionally sprayed at her home while she wasn't there, because she asked too many questions earlier.

"It was a new pesticide, it was a turf pesticide, and so I wanted to ask a few questions about the safety of that pesticide," said Ellen Sward, who owns a home in the spray area in Carmichael.

But Sward said those questions were never answered, and as a cell phone video her friend shot shows, the state workers who were sent to spray the property left after she asked two questions.

But knowing they would be back, Sward said she would prefer being there during the spraying.

"And I requested a new appointment both in email and in writing and I did not get any response," Sward told FOX40.

Instead Sward got home Tuesday to find a cut pad lock on her gate to her backyard with warrants posted on her doors and fence, stating the state employees had returned and sprayed her yard while she was away.

"The CHP officers must have reached over and clipped it," Sward told FOX40.

"We still need to treat those properties in order to have success against this pest, that's where the warrant service comes in, where we have legal permission from a court to access the property and apply the treatment," said Jay Van Rein, a spokesperson with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Van Rein told FOX40 this is all for the greater good, as the beetle is costing states on the East Coast, where it has established itself, millions of dollars a year to manage over population.

So far, the number of beetles in California is relatively small, about 10 were found in Carmichael last year, according to Van Rein.

But the state said it needs to eradicate them before their population grows, which California's climate offers the perfect conditions for.

"They come to California and they find they have a lot more plant material to eat and to breed on, and they also don't have to put up with the kind of weather back there, so they tend to survive better than they would in their native territory," Van Rein said.

But Sward disagrees, feeling the state should be using biological controls instead of pesticides.

"I've been quite active as a program critic," Sward admits.

Although she's questioning the spraying by putting up signs on her garage, Sward said she is cooperating with the state employees, allowing them access to spray her property already twice this year.

But Sward feels the state isn't cooperating with her civil liberties.

"I would like to ask the CDFA how many more times they intend to break down my side gate," Sward said.

Meanwhile, the state said it has been successful in eradicating the Japanese beetle several times in Southern California in the past.

But Van Rein said the spraying is intense, and that some properties will need to be sprayed up to 10 times between May and August this year.

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