The California Environmental Health Initiative


Science at the intersection of human health and agriculture.


California Department of Food and Agriculture CCDFA)Japanese Beetle “Eradication” Projects in the Sacramento CA Area

CDFA has been spraying residential yards, public land, and schools in Sacramento regularly for the past 5 years for the Japanese beetle.

This spray campaign is:

  1. NOT SAFE: The pesticides (carbaryl, cyfluthrin, and imidacloprid) are linked to cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and nervous and reproductive system damage and are highly toxic to bees and lethal to aquatic life (one spray zone is adjacent to the American River with storm drains that flow directly to the river).  At least one child became ill following spraying in 2015.

  1. NOT EFFECTIVE: CDFA has been spraying for Japanese beetles in these and adjacent neighborhoods of Sacramento at least since the early 1980s, claiming that the toxic pesticides "eradicate" the beetle even though it continues to reappear in the same locations.  CDFA's approach is not working and is creating a chronic toxic exposure in Sacramento neighborhoods.


The US Dept. of Agriculture recommends safe alternative treatments (predator insects, mass trapping, other non-toxic methods). CDFA refuses these safe methods, claiming that only hazardous pesticides can "eradicate" the beetle even though the beetle is not being eradicated and continues to reappear. 

Read a commentary by a children’s MD and toxicologist on the risks of the pesticides that CDFA is using for the Japanese beetle here.

Read our analysis of CDFA’s review of the effectiveness of safe alternative beetle treatments here. Read CDFA’s alternatives review here.

Read a commentary here on the statistical likelihood of that CDFA’s claim is true that the beetles trapped each year are new introductions rather than a resident population.

Read our commentary in the Sacramento Bee on the 2011 spraying.

Read our article from the California Progress Report on the 2012 spraying.

A CDFA Japanese beetle scientific advisory panel met on Dec 9-10, 2015 to develop recommendations for 2016 beetle treatments.  Read letters to the panel:

  1. -from CEHI

  2. -from an internationally known Japanese beetle expert

  3. -from an environmental toxicologist

The panel’s preliminary recommendations call for elimination of the carcinogen carbaryl but continued broadcast spray of neurotoxins and endocrine disrupters. Final recommendations will be published at an unspecified future date, after which CDFA will make its decision about treatments for 2016.