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Don't confuse Japanese beetles for emerald ash borers

Media contact: Catherine Dehdashti, U of M Extension, (612) 625-0237,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (6/27/2012) —Minnesota has been on high alert to watch for emerald ash borer since it was first discovered here in 2009. But now is the time of year when another insect, the Japanese beetle, is active and can be mistaken for emerald ash borer, according to University of Minnesota Extension entomologist Jeff Hahn.

"Not every green insect is emerald ash borer," said Hahn. "Japanese beetles are very common in the Twin Cites as well as in areas to the south, southeast, and some central counties. They are often mistaken for emerald ash borer."

Unlike the destructive emerald ash borer, which threatens the health of the state's nearly 1 billion ash trees, Japanese beetles do not usually cause lasting damage.
Emerald ash borer is a slender insect about one-third to a half-inch long. Its body is widest just behind the head and then it gradually tapers back to tip of the abdomen.

"What really stands out about emerald ash borer is its bright, iridescent green color," said Hahn. "And if it lifts its wings up, you will see the body underneath is a purplish-magenta color."

By contrast, Japanese beetles are broadly oval, about three-eighths of an inch long with a bright emerald green head and upper body. Japanese beetles also have shiny bronze-colored wing covers. An easy to way to identify a Japanese beetle is by the five small white tufts of hair along each side of the abdomen and two larger white tufts on the tip of the abdomen. Other insects do not have those spots, according to Hahn.

To learn more about emerald ash borer, visit To learn more about Japanese beetles, visit

If you see an insect that you believe could be an emerald ash borer, contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Call the department's "Arrest the Pest" Hotline at (888) 545-6684 or send an email to

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