State agencies ask residents to check backyards for invasive insects

Aug 2, 2021, 5:48 PM

Your favorite backyard tree, your swimming pool, or your garden lights could be hiding invasive insects.

That’s why the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Invasive Species Council, and Department of Natural Resources are asking people to take part in National Tree Check Month this August by checking common hotspots for out-of-place critters.

“August is a really great time to look for invasive insects. … In August, a lot of different species are boring out of the tree and are fully-grown adults out in the environment,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council.

He pointed out that a variety of different invasive species could be in your yard and garden without you even realizing it. Insects are attracted to light and water, so hotspots to check include trees, outdoor lights, and standing water, such as birdbaths, dog bowls, and swimming pools. When checking the pool, don’t forget to look at the filter and the skimmer.

Last year, the discovery of a dead Asian giant hornet in an outdoor light in Blaine led to the subsequent discovery and eradication of an Asian giant hornet nest.

If during your checks you find any insect that does not look like something you have seen before, report it to the Invasive Species Council’s website or via the council’s app, which is free for iPhone and Android.

“We always say, if you see something that you don’t recognize, snap a photo and file a report,” Bush said.

It is best to get a photo of the insect next to a common item like a pen or coin for scale, and preferably with a white background so the insect can be easily seen. If you can catch it, store it in a Ziploc bag. However, if you think you see an Asian giant hornet, do not approach it — instead, report it to the state Department of Agriculture immediately.

While residents of Whatcom County should keep an eye out for the 2-inch orange hornets, people around the rest of the state are not likely to see them. But there are still plenty of other invasive insects to be on the lookout for, such as wood-boring bugs. Bush said that harmful wood-dwellers like the emerald ash borer are making their way across the country, leaving dead trees in their path.

While the emerald ash borer, which has a narrow, metallic green body that is about a half-inch long, has not yet been seen in Washington, Bush fears it is only a matter of time — which is why a single spotting in a backyard could make a real difference.

“An early report of a new problem invasive species can prevent hundreds of thousand, if not millions of dollars in damages to our trees as well as costs to do control and mitigation,” Bush said.

Another insect to watch out for is the Japanese beetle, which has already been found in Washington. This scarab beetle has a kind of copper-colored shell with white spots.

Just as important as rooting out invasive insects on your property is making sure they never get to Washington in the first place. You should never transport firewood across the state or across multiple states, but instead buy it in the county where you will be using it; the transportation of firewood is the main way the emerald ash borer is spreading. You also should not take plants or soil on road trips.

Even when traveling by plane, make sure the folded clothing in your suitcase is not harboring an invasive insect.

“When you’re traveling, it’s always best to take a few minutes to make sure that you’re not bringing insects with you,” Bush said.

In Washington, citizen science efforts have led to great success with catching invasive insects. Last year, half of the Asian giant hornet sightings were made by residents on the lookout. Bush is hopeful that this year, even more citizen scientists can find invasive bugs.

“We’re asking you to take 10 minutes to check your property, your pool, the trees in your community, and to help us look for potential problem species,” he said. “With invasive species, if you don’t immediately find a problem and then respond to it, it may be something that we deal with for numerous years and may not be something that we can ever fully eradicate.”

Local News

Washington State University...
Associated Press

One killed, another injured in shooting near WSU campus

Police say a man has been arrested in connection with a shooting that killed one person and injured another near the Washington State University campus early Saturday morning.
1 day ago
homeless camp...
Andrew Scheinthal, KIRO 7 News

Seattle business attempts to clear homeless camp, backtracks after advocates step in

A Seattle business is facing heat from homeless advocacy groups after they attempted to clear out an encampment off of Lake City Way.
1 day ago
COVID, hospitals...
Nick Bowman

‘Tough few weeks ahead’ as state’s hospitals continue to struggle with flood of COVID patients

While Washington's COVID crisis has begun to stabilize in recent weeks, health officials warn that the state's hospitals are not quite out of the woods yet. 
2 days ago
Eatonville COVID outbreak...
MyNorthwest Staff

Eatonville school goes back to virtual learning over COVID outbreak

Eatonville Middle School sent students home on Friday, and will be temporarily moving back to virtual learning until at least mid-October. 
2 days ago
Amazon Bothell...
Dalton Day

Permits indicate Amazon is behind planned new warehouse in Bothell, despite denial from county

Plans for a 105,000-square-foot warehouse in Bothell named as a “fulfillment center" suggest Amazon is behind the project.
2 days ago
Employment Security, audit reports, unemployment tax, unemployment suspect...
Nick Bowman

Former state unemployment worker arrested, charged for alleged role in payment scheme

A former ESD employee was arrested and charged on Friday, for allegedly defrauding the state out of thousands in unemployment payments.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
State agencies ask residents to check backyards for invasive insects