They are coming.
The infestation of a new type of stink bug in Benton and Franklin counties appears to be light, compared to nearby Yakima and Walla Walla counties.
But the insects are spreading and growing in number, said Gwen Hoheisel, regional extension specialist in Kennewick for Washington State University.
It may only be a matter of time before you find one in your house, looking to escape cooling fall weather.
Never miss a local story.
Researchers have been scrambling to keep the brown mamorated stink bugs in check before they damage trees, gardens and crops.
Since September, they have turned up in significantly larger numbers in traps set for them — not to mention homes — in the Northwest, according to information from WSU.
They have been confirmed in 19 of Washington’s 39 counties.
We’re talking about quite a jump.
Michael Bush, WSU Yakima County Extension
“It’s our hope that this doesn’t mark a turning point where the insect will start causing crop damage after it emerges in the spring,” said WSU entomologist Elizabeth Beers in Wenatchee.
The bug, which comes from Asia, was discovered in Pennsylvania almost two decades ago and has been working its way west. It was detected in Portland in 2006.
It looks like the native stink bug you may already know, with their broad, shield-shaped bodies. But the brown mamorated stink bug has narrow white bands on its antennae.
Michael Bush of WSU’s Yakima County Extension is becoming very familiar with their appearance.
A pheromone-baited trap placed outside one Yakima home captured almost 200 of the bugs in five days.
“That compares to the 36 we captured in the entire year of 2015 throughout all of Yakima County,” Bush said in a statement. “We’re talking about quite a jump.”
They don’t pose a health risk if they enter homes, Bush said. But plants may be at risk.
They are attracted to “street trees” such as maples, oaks and catalpas, Hoheisel said.
In the mid-Atlantic states, homeowners noticed the stink bug species for about a decade before we saw significant damage to crops.
Tracy Leskey, entomologist
They also like just about any type of fruit or vegetable crop, including apple, cherry and peach trees and corn and tomato plants.
No crop damage has been reported in Washington, at least yet.
“In the mid-Atlantic states, homeowners noticed the stink bug species for about a decade before we saw significant damage to crops,” said entomologist Tracy Leskey, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and director of the Stop the Brown Mamorated Stink Bug SWAT team, in a statement.
Now they have caused millions of dollars in damages.
Master gardeners, researchers and horticultural pest and disease boards in the Mid-Columbia are monitoring for the bugs.
Tri-City area residents who find them can help by turning in the varmints.
They can be dropped off at the WSU extension offices at 5600 W. Canal Drive in Kennewick or 1121 Dudley Ave. in Prosser.
You also may take a photo and email it to Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’ll take them by mail too, but recommends they be packaged in boxes rather than envelopes.
Stink bugs smell like dirty socks when crushed.
Bush’s address is WSU Extension Office, 2403 S. 18th St., Suite 100, Union Gap, WA 98903.