International Year of Plant Health

The United Nations designates specific days, weeks, years or decades as occasions to mark certain events or themes in order to promote the organization’s goals through action and awareness-raising. In 2020, plant health will take center stage.

Certain plants are in danger: global trade and travel mean that new plant diseases and pests are reaching Switzerland more and more frequently. As a consequence of climate change, the risk of freshly introduced pests potentially becoming permanent residents here and then spreading is increasing, which can have a major impact. To raise awareness of this ever-growing threat and spur people into action, the UN has named 2020 the “International Year of Plant Health”. This goal is represented by a Japanese beetle in the stamp motif on the CHF 0.85 stamp, designed by Angelo Boog. This bug, which was introduced into Italy a few years ago, can now be found in Switzerland as well, in southern Ticino. Over 300 species of wild plants and crops are food for the Japanese beetle, including fruit trees and the vine illustrated on the stamp. Thanks to the five white tufts of hair on its side, it is easy to tell the Japanese beetle apart from the garden chafer and the cockchafer. Anyone who spots this beetle must report it to the plant protection authority in their canton.

Interview on the Japanese beetle with Louis Sutter and Peter Kupferschmied, research assistants at the Federal Office for Agriculture.

The Japanese beetle has reached Switzerland. What exactly does that mean?

The beetle, originally from Japan, was brought to the USA at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1970s, the beetle first appeared in Europe, on the Azores. It spreads in numerous ways: it is transported by people on long journeys, usually as a stowaway. This means we can assume the Japanese beetle was unintentionally brought to northern Italy by plane. As a result, there was a risk of fully grown beetles “hitch-hiking” their way into Switzerland from the infested area in Italy by car. If the beetle in question is a fertilized female, then there is a danger of the Japanese beetle becoming a permanent resident in Switzerland. What’s more, Japanese beetles can also fly several kilometres by themselves and travel into Switzerland this way. Even the larvae and eggs can be transported in the root balls of plants or in earth.

How exactly can we prevent the Japanese beetle from entering the country?

People can reduce the spread of the Japanese beetle by ensuring they do not bring plant souvenirs such as potted plants back to Switzerland from infested areas. Anyone travelling through the infested area in Milan should also check there are no Japanese beetles “hiding” in their luggage or in their vehicle as stowaways. Additionally, it is crucial to raise awareness among the Swiss public so that we can detect any potential local outbreaks in good time and in turn prevent them from spreading. Anyone who spots or suspects a Japanese beetle here in Switzerland should report this as soon as possible to the plant protection authority in their canton. This is absolutely vital, because only by intervening quickly can we hope to prevent local infestations or at least stop the Japanese beetle population from spreading. Once Japanese beetles have become firmly established in a region, it is too late, and we are forced to find ways of living with them.

What should I do if I see a Japanese beetle in my garden or orchard?

The Japanese beetle is similar to the indigenous garden chafer, but it is possible to tell it apart because of the five tufts of white hair on both of its sides and the two tufts of hair on its last abdominal segment. If you spot these beetles, you must report the incident to the plant protection authority in your canton immediately. If possible, you should capture the Japanese beetle and keep it in a safe place for the plant protection authority.

Buying stamps
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Technical information


Philately: from 27.2.2020 to 31.3.2021 or while stocks last
Branches: from 5.3.2020 to 31.3.2021 or while stocks last


Unlimited from 5.3.2020


Offset, 4-colour; Cartor Security Printing, La Loupe, France


Stamps: 33 × 28 mm
Sheet: 194 × 140 mm (4 rows of 5 stamps)


White stamp paper with optical brightener, matt gummed, 110 gm²




Angelo Boog, Dietlikon