Thursday, August 25, 2022

Pest alert: Everett area residents asked to report sightings of oversized, striped-eyed grasshopper

Cassie Cichorz and Karla Salp
Pest Program and Communications

Close up of the head of an Egyptian grasshopper showing the striped eye
Egyptian grasshoppers have striped eyes
Photo credit: Hectonichus, CC BY-SA 4.0,
via Wikimedia Commons
It is grasshopper season and, if you live near Everett, it is a good time to keep your eyes peeled for an unusually large grasshopper with unusual eyes.

An Everett resident reported one Egyptian grasshopper (Anacridium aegyptium) to Washington State entomologists earlier this year and USDA entomologists recently confirmed it as the first detection of the insect in Washington State. The Washington State Department of Agriculture will conduct visual surveys in the area but is asking the public to also be on the lookout for this large grasshopper with striped eyes.

The grasshoppers typically feed on plant leaves. Adults are usually olive, gray, or brown in color and are most likely to be seen toward the end of summer. Young grasshoppers can be green and may blend in with vegetation. Males can grow to over two inches

Green grasshopper with striped eyes on a green leaf
While young Egyptian grasshoppers are green, 
they still have striped eyes.
Photo credit: Metin Gulesci

long and females can be almost three inches long. The key to identifying these insects is their eyes - they have distinct black striping on their eyes that sets them apart from other grasshoppers.

“An overwintering grasshopper could easily hitchhike, so this is another case where we are asking the public to help us figure out if this is just a single specimen,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist, said. Only one living, but sluggish, grasshopper has been confirmed. There is currently no evidence of an established population.

Residents near Everett who believe they have seen this insect should send a photo to pestprogram@agr.wa.gov for identification and include the location where it was spotted. If you believe you have seen one outside of Washington State, please take a picture of it, note the location, and report it to your State Plant Regulatory Official or State Plant Health Director.

Adult Egyptian grasshopper on a green leaf
Adult Egyptian grasshopper
Photo credit: Metin Gulesci
Egyptian grasshoppers are generally regarded as a minor pest of concern in their native habitat but could be an occasional pest to crops, orchards, and vineyards. USDA is gathering available scientific information to help determine the potential risk of this insect.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

At the fair, make sure show animals get “the blue, not the flu”

Karla Salp
Communications

pigs in a pasture with only the rear end with curly tails visible
Pigs with their curly tails in a pasture
As wild and domestic bird flu cases continue to expand to additional counties across Washington, another influenza (flu) strain is also picking up in the U.S. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the fourth case of swine flu in a human – this time in Oregon.

Influenza viruses can be passed between humans, birds, and pigs. Because of this, it is important to practice good biosecurity whenever interacting with either birds or pigs on your farm and when attending fairs and livestock shows.

Swine flu viruses are different from seasonal flu viruses that infect people. Flu vaccines don’t generally protect against swine flu; they protect people against seasonal flu, which can also spread to pigs.

No swine flu vaccine is available for animals yet in the United States, but work is being done to get an approved vaccine to use for control in the face of an outbreak, with promising vaccines demonstrating 100% efficacy in swine.

Swine flu can spread among pigs throughout the year, though rates increase significantly when infected pigs spend more than three days at a fair or livestock show. Reducing the time pigs spend at fairs to three days or less is one way to reduce the risk of spreading swine flu. The Swine Exhibitions Zoonotic Working Group has also produced a checklist for exhibition organizers and youth organization leaders to minimize the spread of influenza, which includes recommended actions to take before, during, and after exhibitions.

Pig in a pen at a fair
Pig in a pen at a fair
For exhibitors as well as visitors to pig exhibits, these recommendations help prevent the spread of flu between pigs and humans:

  • Avoid close contact with pigs that look or act ill. For exhibition organizers, pigs should be observed daily for flu-like symptoms. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and running water before and after contact with pigs or visiting a swine barn or exhibit. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
  • People that are 65 or older, children under the age of 5, people who are pregnant, and people with certain long-term health conditions have higher risk of serious flu complications and should consider avoiding pigs and swine barns.
  • Keep food, drinks, and baby items, such as toys, pacifiers, bottles, and strollers, out of areas where there are pigs.

“After the fair, don’t bring home more than that blue ribbon,” Dr. Amber Itle, Washington State Veterinarian, said. “When showing animals – especially pigs and birds – take extra precautions to prevent the spread of swine flu and other diseases.”

But don’t think it is just the pigs that can infect humans. Humans can also infect pigs, so if you are not feeling well, take precautions to prevent spreading disease to your animals or have someone else care for your animals until you feel better.

interspecies influenza transmission graphic showing how flu strains can spread between species

If you own both birds and pigs, they should always be kept separate to reduce the risk of infection and mutating viruses. Prior to COVID-19, the last global pandemic was swine flu in 2009 – infecting an estimated 60 million people and resulting in over 12,000 deaths in the United States alone. That strain had signs of combined human, bird, and swine origins.

Given the high numbers of detection of bird flu throughout the country this year, adding swine flu to the mix is an unwelcome prospect – increasing the risk of another infectious and potentially deadly influenza strain. Keeping pigs and birds separated and practicing good biosecurity could prevent the next pandemic.

Additional resources

Video: What is swine flu?

Take Action to Prevent the Spread of Flu Between Pigs and People | CDC

Key Facts about Human Infections with Variant Viruses | CDC

What People Who Raise Pigs Need To Know About Influenza (Flu)

Monday, August 22, 2022

Cicada killer frequently mistaken as northern giant hornet

Cassie Cichorz
Pest Program

cicada killer side-by-side with a northern giant hornet
With summer here, people are outside enjoying nature and noticing insects! Citizens are on the lookout and reporting suspect giant hornets. WSDA’s team has been hard at work reviewing hundreds of reports of suspect northern giant hornets. Most of the insects reported are not harmful and play an important role in the environment. One insect, the western cicada killer (Sphecius grandis) seems to be trending as the most common native bug mistaken for a northern giant hornet (Vespa mandarina).

If you can familiarize yourself with some features of the look-alike insect in the spotlight, you’ll be able to identify differences. The western cicada killer is a very common native wasp that can be almost as large as a northern giant hornet. Cicada killers can be seen from late spring and throughout the summer.

Cicada killers can be up to two inches long, just like the northern giant hornet. Differences in their head, thorax, or abdomen will help you distinguish between the two species. The heads of cicada killers are narrower than their thorax, while the northern giant hornet has a head as wide as its thorax. The cicada killer has round eyes, unlike the angular eyes of giant hornets.

cicada killer

The thorax on a cicada killer is reddish in color, while the northern giant hornet’s is black. The cicada killer’s thorax and head are about the same color, unlike the contrasting head and thorax of the northern giant hornet. Both wasps have translucent, amber-colored wings.

You can also check the banding on the abdomen for differences. The northern giant hornet has horizontal lateral bands or striping on its abdomen. The cicada killer’s bands will drop down like teardrops, or have dots between the bands.


Female cicada killers are solitary and dig their nests in the ground. You will often find their nests around areas with lots of sunlight, and sometimes you will see a mound of dirt near the entrance. Cicada killers do not actively defend their nests normally. Males can be territorial, but they do not have a stinger.

Northern giant hornet nests can be underground or in tree cavities. Unlike cicada killers, hornets are social and live in large colonies – which they will vigorously defend. Away from the nest, hornets are typically non-aggressive unless provoked.

WSDA has other information on look-alike insects, including a poster guide available for use and download. Click here to learn more about identification. Cicada killers do not need to be reported, but if you suspect you’ve seen a giant hornet in Washington State or are not sure if what you have seen is one or not, get a photo and report it at agr.wa.gov/hornets.





Friday, August 5, 2022

Pest alert: Have you seen this huge moth? It just showed up in Bellevue

Karla Salp
Communications

The non-native atlas moth compared with large
moths found in North America. 
Washington State entomologists are asking the public to report sightings of the atlas moth after one was recently discovered in Bellevue. There are no known traps for atlas moths, so WSDA is hoping to determine whether there are additional moths in the area based on public reports. With this single atlas moth detection only, there is no evidence that an atlas moth population is established in Washington.

Residents are encouraged to photograph, collect, and report atlas moths if they are seen. The moths do not pose a public health threat and thus can safely be photographed, handled, and collected.

“This is a ‘gee-whiz’ type of insect because it is so large,” Sven Spichiger, WSDA managing entomologist, said. “Even if you aren’t on the lookout for insects, this is the type that people get their phones out and take a picture of – they are that striking.”

Washington State residents who believe they have seen this moth should send a photo to pestprogram@agr.wa.gov for identification and include the location where it was spotted. While there are no reports of atlas moth anywhere else in the U.S., if you believe you’ve found it outside of Washington State, please take a picture of it, note the location, and report it to the State Plant Regulatory Official or State Plant Health Director in your state.

The atlas moth found on a Bellvue garage
The moth was initially reported to WSDA via a University of Washington professor on July 7. WSDA entomologists identified it as an atlas moth and sent it to USDA for confirmation, which is the standard process for new pest detections. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Investigation Service confirmed the specimen as an atlas moth on July 27 and it is believed to be the first confirmed detection of the moth in the United States.
Atlas moth compared to a man's hand

One of the world’s largest known moths with a wingspan of up to almost 10 inches, it is also a federally quarantined pest – meaning it is illegal to obtain, harbor, rear, or sell live moths whether adults, eggs, larvae, or pupae without a permit from USDA. USDA has more information about permits on its invertebrate pets web page. While there is minimal research about the moth, entomologists believe host plants may include apple and cherry.

“This is normally a tropical moth. We are not sure it could survive here,” Spichiger said. “USDA is gathering available scientific and technical information about this moth and will provide response recommendations, but in the meantime, we hope residents will help us learn if this was a one-off escapee or whether there might indeed be a population in the area.” 


Note: This blog was updated on August 17 to reflect that rather than being the world's largest moth, it is one of the world's largest moths. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Industry and regulatory leaders to discuss using hemp products in animal feed

Amber Betts
WSDA Communications

When the 2018 Farm Bill allowed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to begin regulating hemp production, many in the animal feed industry hoped to use hemp byproducts as a source of protein, fat, and fiber content in animal feed. However, while the bill allowed for production of hemp, it was silent on whether hemp ingredients could be allowed. 

Animal feed experts at the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) will join the Association of American Feed Controls Officials (AAFCO) and the National Industrial Hemp Council of America (NIHC) for a webinar next week to talk about this issue: “Why isn’t hemp in animal feed? A discussion on overcoming challenges and gaining approval.” The webinar is scheduled for Aug. 9, from noon to 4 p.m. Eastern time.

In addition to the nutritional value, hemp ingredients are a potential alternative to existing, more costly, but already approved ingredients. It is essential to ensure safety for each ingredient for every intended animal species, as well as the humans that may consume meat, eggs, or dairy products from animals that consume these ingredients. Each species has differing nutritional requirements for their various life stages that are typically met through a complete and balanced feed fed for long periods of time. Alternatively, humans can choose what they eat on a daily basis to get their nutrition from a variety of food sources.

Interest in including hemp in commercial animal feed has gained traction since USDA’s Agricultural Improvement Act (also known as the Farm Bill) passed in 2018. However, use of the ingredient in animal feed and pet food remains under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state regulatory agencies with an established safety review for all ingredients.

Webinar

The meeting organizers’ goal is to connect industry peers, and discuss the challenges and how to move forward to make hemp a safe and beneficial feed ingredient.

Fifteen leading experts from feed manufacturing, hemp production, scientific research, and regulatory oversight will participate in a three-part panel discussion, Q&A and conversation around:

  •     Scientific research and data,
  •     Ingredient review and approval, and
  •     Interests and concerns

More information on the event, and to register can be found online at: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_U1zWTzoqR5qS8Y2H2SMJnQ

Learn more about this conversation here:

https://www.aafco.org/Home/hempinanimalfeed

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Residents see Japanese beetles after spraying insecticide, entomologists explain why

Crews sprayed insecticide on lawns
in Grandview this past spring, treating
for the recently discovered infestation
of Japanese beetle.
Amber Betts
WSDA Communications

Just a few years ago Grandview residents didn’t have to worry about an invasive pest gobbling up their roses, or making it impossible to have a green and full lawn. Now, Japanese beetles are in full force as they’ve begun to emerge from their winter, underground homes.

Last year in 2021, we saw these non-native Japanese beetles grow exponentially in population. This year, before the ‘adult flight season,’ our eradication teams took to the lawns of Grandview and applied an insecticide to help curb the population of these beetles. So why are we seeing thousands of beetles? Didn’t the treatment work?

What was the point?

These questions may be on the minds of many Grandview area residents as we begin to see a larger population of Japanese beetles than last year.

Since last fall, Japanese beetle grubs have been underground, growing, and preparing to emerge this summer as adults. Our entomologists explain, the treatment that was applied this past spring will not affect the grubs. The active ingredient wasn’t strong enough to kill these ground-dwelling, uninvited guests, because they were too big, almost full grown So, now we’re seeing an even larger population of beetles this year. So why do the treatment at all? What was the point?

The adult beetles that are flying around our yards now, eating a big feast and mating, are laying eggs. These eggs will hatch very soon, and they will begin to eat the roots of the grass. Their regular life cycle says they will continue to grow all winter, and emerge as adults next summer. However, when they eat the roots of a treated lawn, because they are so small, they will not survive.

That’s why we won’t see the results of this year’s treatment until next summer, when the beetle eggs that were laid this summer begin to emerge from the ground and take flight. We anticipate seeing a decline in the population in summer 2023.

However, we can’t do this with treatment alone.

We need your help

Our teams are on the ground daily checking the Japanese beetle traps, more than 2,300, while also working on ways to dispose of our yard waste, and instituting a proposed quarantine that would limit the spread of this pest beyond the current infestation zone.

The quarantine proposal will have a public hearing on August 2. We encourage as many voices to participate as possible, it’ll be held at The Learning Center at 313 Division St. at 10 a.m.

While we are waiting for the final touches to be put on our yard waste disposal site, we are asking residents who want to join the fight against these pests to keep all yard waste like lawn clippings, sod, and others on their property until our site is ready. Crews are working hard to get the disposal site ready. Once it is ready, we will be able to take yard debris and green waste from all businesses and residents inside the infestation area. From there, we will be chipping the items to ensure they do not house a place for beetle larvae to hatch, grow, or reproduce. 

Keep an eye out for more information on that soon.

What else can I do?

Residents who want to do more to help can place traps on their property, reporting their findings, and use WSU’s treatment guide, to treat their properties for the adult beetles.

Be on the lookout for a treatment request from WSDA for next year’s eradication effort, pending funding, in early 2023. We want to get that second round of treatment on as many lawns as we can, to sway the Japanese beetle population from growing into our crops and ultimately affecting our food, and local ag economy. Residents and other interested parties can stay in the loop on all our efforts by joining the Pest Program email listserv. (make sure “Japanese beetle” is checked, or join the Japanese Beetle Watch Facebook group.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Governor Inslee: hornet hunter (for a day)

Karla Salp
WSDA Communications

Governor Inslee learns to use the tracking
 equipment that WSDA staff uses to track
and eradicate Asian giant hornets in Washington. 

Washington Governor Jay Inslee held a tracking receiver, looking intently into the woods, carefully listening for “beeps” as he found his way to the tracking device. Typically, the device is tied to an Asian giant hornet, used by WSDA staff to track and eradicate the pest.

Since the news that Asian giant hornets had been found in Washington in 2019, WSDA has been working to rid the state of these pests that threaten our agricultural vitality. This effort has garnered interest nationwide and has required research and training for WSDA staff and federal and neighboring state partners. Governor Inslee joined the crew of hornet hunters for a day, at the second-annual Asian giant hornet field training day. WSDA “hornet hunters,” as their hats affectionately call them, spent the day learning about trapping, tracking, and removing these hornets and their nests. 

The field training day served as an opportunity to cross-train staff on various aspects of the agency’s hornet response, including how to build, bait, and check hornet traps, trying on hornet protective suits, learning about and testing radio hornet tracking equipment, and even simulating a nest extraction.

Eradication coordinator Rian Wojahn
shows WSDA staff and Governor Inslee
how the vacuum works when
removing a nest. 
Hands-on learning

Governor Inslee was an enthusiastic participant and WSDA’s Pest Program was ready to provide hands-on opportunities for the Governor to see all that is involved with the tricky task of eradicating hornets:

·         Hornet suits – Outreach coordinator Cassie Cichorz demonstrated donning the hornet suit the team wears when eradicating hornet nests. Governor Inslee learned the “inside tricks” such as wearing a hard hat inside the suit to not only protect the staff member but help keep the suit hood propped up and easier to see out of. 

·         Tracking devices – Eradication coordinator Rian Wojahn explained how the program uses radio tags about the size of a Tic Tac to track the hornets. The governor then got to work with Nathan Chambers to use the tracking receiver and follow the “beeps” to locate a tag the team had hidden – and he found it!

        Education and outreach – Many of the outreach materials the team has created were on-hand and the Governor was able to learn about the extensive efforts WSDA has put into educating and engaging with the public about the importance of finding and eradicating hornets for our honey bees.

Nest extraction example. 
Drones – Nathan Roueche, the new Asian giant hornet project leader, had the latest addition to WSDA’s hornet-hunting toolbox: an unmanned aircraft system (UAS – aka a drone.) WSDA hopes to be able to deploy the UAS with a receiver attached to make it easier to track the hornets once they are tagged. Rather than relying on following the hornets on foot (through forested areas with thick brush and undergrowth) WSDA hopes to use a drone instead to track the hornet to the nest, and then limit the ground search to a narrowed-down area.

Visiting area zero

In addition to getting a close-up look at WSDA’s hornet-hunting tools, Governor Inslee also visited the area where the hornets have been the most active over the past two years. Several of the families that have actively supported the state’s hornet response - and which had hornets on their property at one time – met with the Governor and shared their experiences with the hornets.

Outreach Coordinator Cassie
Cichorz shows Governor Inslee
how to put on the "hornet suit."

Trudging through the forest, Governor Inslee got to see first-hand some of the challenging conditions the WSDA team works in to find and eradicate hornet nests. The Governor visited the site of the first nest eradication of 2021 (second nest overall) and got to see that WSDA tries to practice “leave no trace” as much as possible. The site was indistinguishable from the surrounding area, with local vegetation quickly having replaced the tree that had to be removed. There was no sign that a tree had even been there a year prior housing a giant hornet nest. The team had a hard time showing the exact spot thanks to the regrowth.

Critical to success: public and leadership support

The Governor dedicated the entire morning to visiting and learning about the hornet response from both the public as well as state and federal agencies. Taking that amount of time demonstrated just how important this project is to the Governor, as well as the rest of the state’s legislative leadership. The governor’s visit – spending time with both the public as well as the program – was emblematic of the collaborative approach that has made Washington’s Asian giant hornet response a model for the nation.



Friday, July 8, 2022

WSDA “Cook WA” pilot program encourages home cooking

Amber Betts 
WSDA Communications

As a mom, I know one of the most stressful questions my kids ask is, “What’s for dinner?” 

Let’s face it, we’re busy, and it’s hard to come up with creative, healthy, and delicious meals that everyone will eat – every. single. day. Add financial and food access barriers and it could seem nearly impossible at times.

A volunteer hands a CookWA
reusable shopping bag to a food pantry customer.
In the heat of summer in Wenatchee, Chelan Douglas Community Action Council Food Distribution Center volunteers set up the weekly food distribution tables and begin cooking a meal for taste testing – looking to help solve the healthy-tasty-dinner problem for local families. When food pantry visitors stop by and get pantry items May through July, they will also receive a reusable shopping bag full of the meal ingredients and a recipe card to make the demonstration meal on their own.

This food pantry organization is one of 12 including a tribal partner, participating in the WSDA Food Assistance pilot program Cook WA. This program was designed to provide Washington families access to locally sourced ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes aimed at incorporating more fruits and veggies to the day’s diet. In addition to the produce, spices and sauces are added to the mix to improve taste and flavor, while taking dinner tables across the globe with flavors used in different parts of the world.

The idea launched this summer was born out of a goal to meet the needs of low-income Washington families, created with families in mind who know the struggle of meal planning.

A 2019 study showed 77 percent of Washington state Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-eligible adults, and 82 percent of youth in SNAP-eligible families consumed less than the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

The first step to creating the Cook WA program and getting more produce on plates was to determine what ingredients were available across the state at local farms and through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). With this knowledge in hand, chefs around the state agreed to help create the recipes. The chefs include: The Governor’s Executive Mansion Chef, Quan Hoang, Frank Magana of Three Magnets Brewing in Olympia, Melissa Davis at WSU Extension Thurston and Lewis counties, and Elizabeth Campbell of the Squaxin Island Tribe. The goal in creating these recipes was to remove barriers to home cooking that some may experience. Some of those barriers identified by the WSDA team included accessibility to sauces and spices, a lack of basic cooking techniques, and the regular stress of meal planning and cooking.

One of the several recipes in the
arsenal of the Cook WA meal kit toolkit. 

While food pantries offer access to foods and ingredients, preparing a complete, nutritious, and tasty meal can be challenging for individuals facing food insecurity. A recent study found that food pantry clients were three times as likely to select targeted healthier food options (kale and whole grains) when recipe tastings and meal kits were available, compared to when neither was provided. Providing a meal kit with a tasting of the recipe doubled the selection of the targeted healthier food options when compared to providing the tasting alone. WSDA is surveying clients as part of the Cook WA pilot, and so far, 50 percent of respondents say the meal kits help them eat more fruits and vegetables. WSDA Food Assistance had recipes translated into six languages to further remove barriers to healthy, nutritious meals.

Each step of the recipe
was displayed as part of the
cooking demonstration. 

In addition to finding fresh ingredients directly from Washington farms, the WSDA Food Access team also worked to provide access to locally made sauces and spices to provide in the meal kits as well.

Some of the recipes include favorites like chicken pineapple coconut curry, Italian pasta and chickpea stew, roasted huckleberry chicken with kale salad, and bison and butternut squash chili.

These recipes and tool kits are also available on WSDA’s Food Access webpage.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Summer is here, but bird flu hasn’t flown the coop

Karla Salp
Communications

Chickens not confined to a covered shelter are
at greater risk for contracting bird flu
It’s been a bad year for bird flu across the country, even though it was only first detected in Washington in early May. At the time, state veterinarians were hopeful that Washington would scrape by without any cases or, once it arrived, that we would be over the worst of it by the end of June. Unfortunately, neither happened.

Washington’s backyard flocks and wild birds are still contracting highly pathogenic avian influenza, with the first detection in Kitsap County happening only this week. The prolonged period of detections has backyard flock owners asking when they can relax the biosecurity measures they have been taking to protect their flocks.

The short answer is: not yet.

Given the number of detections still occurring, Dr. Amber Itle, Washington State Veterinarian, continues to recommend that owners keep their birds isolated until 30 days after the last detection in the state.

While this may be challenging for owners, what they are doing is working! All of the flocks that have had detections have had contact with wild birds, especially wild waterfowl.

Keeping your birds covered and confined is best, but if you can’t, then here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Separate domestic birds from wild birds
  • Separate domestic poultry from domestic waterfowl
  • Discourage wild birds from coming near your flocks
  • Only feed domestic birds indoors and remove feed at night (when wild birds often feed)
  • Lock up your flock’s feed in containers with lids
  • Remove bird feeders that might attract wild waterfowl
  • Fence off the ponds
  • Cover the chicken yard with netting·

Direct and indirect contact with wild waterfowl
has proven to be one of the greatest risk 
factors for a flock contracting HPAI this year
Most flock owners have been doing a tremendous job protecting their birds. And even though there have been several detections in backyard flocks, efforts by backyard flock owners, commercial flock owners, and state and federal officials have thus far prevented infection in commercial flocks, which would have a significant impact on the food supply and Washington’s poultry industry. (Did you know eggs are frequently one of Washington’s top 10 commodities?)

It may be tempting to just let your birds run loose as the weather warms, but biosecurity is still as important now as it was two months ago when bird flu was first confirmed here. Hopefully, warmer summer weather will help lighten the virus load and cases will begin to decline.

This outbreak has been tough on flock owners, veterinarians, and especially our birds who have been isolated and unable to run free. Hang in there, and reach out to friends and fellow flock owners for support during this difficult time. A BIG thank you to all our flock owners who are doing everything they can to protect their flocks and the surrounding flocks.

  Visit agr.wa.gov/birdflu for more information, including the latest detections in the state. 

Thursday, June 30, 2022

With hornet trapping, finding nothing means something

Karla Salp
Communications

Trap contents from a brown-sugar-baited trap in
South Korea, including V. mandarinia and V. crabro
The first of July is a much-anticipated time for Washington’s citizen scientists. It marks the start of the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) trapping season. For the past two years, citizen scientists have set hundreds of traps to help look for hornets throughout the state.

Yet very few of those traps have actually caught a hornet. Not catching hornets, however, is good – and provides meaningful information.

WSDA entomologists Sven Spichiger and Chris Looney recently returned from a trip to South Korea where they conducted or began various types of hornet research in partnership with some local collaborators in an area where the hornets are well established.

One of the experiments involved placing five traps - like those WSDA and citizen scientists have been using for the past two years - to look for the hornets. The traps used the brown sugar bait option – an option that was added in 2021 in addition to the orange juice and rice cooking wine bait option.

The mini-experiment suggested that when hornets are around, the traps will catch them. Although the traps were placed several weeks before peak worker hornet season, WSDA was able to trap two Vespa mandarinia and six Vespa crabro (European hornet) specimens from June 9 - 24.

When you run a trap and catch nothing, that is a great result! It suggests that there are no hornets where you live. So, even if you are disappointed that you’ve never caught a hornet, please consider being a citizen scientist again and help us monitor hornet populations in the state. Whether you catch a hornet or not, it provides the data we need to eradicate this invasive hornet.

Not up for trapping hornets? You can also join our Adopt a Wasp program, which only requires five minutes per week watching paper wasp nests on your property. 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

First 2022 detection of Japanese beetle larvae confirmed

Cassie Cichorz
WSDA Pest Program Outreach Coordinator

Japanese beetle grub
found in Grandview.
Japanese beetles are starting to make their appearance in the Grandview, Washington area.

Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) entomologists confirmed the first report of Japanese beetle larvae in Washington state for 2022. This is the first report of a larvae or grub confirmed in the beetle infestation area near Grandview Washington.

A resident of Grandview was weeding her garden on June 13, and discovered white C-shaped grubs or larvae in the soil of her boxed garden beds. She submitted a report to a WSDA field supervisor. WSDA retrieved the larvae later that afternoon and observed multiple grubs with visible legs. The specimen was reviewed under a microscope and confirmed to be Japanese beetle larvae.

WSDA installed a beetle trap on the resident’s property to capture any possible emerging adults. WSDA will also work to remove remaining grubs from the garden. These will used to research collecting strategies that could benefit future public surveys.

Japanese beetles are not native to Washington and threaten more than 300 plants, including roses, grapes, hops, apples, and grass. In 2021 WSDA trapped more than 24,000 beetles in the Grandview area. This year WSDA deployed 2,229 traps to capture any emerging adults. The traps will also monitor the locations of Japanese beetles.

WSDA is working to eradicate the pest by treating properties in and around the infested area. In total, WSDA is treating around 2,000 acres in Grandview and surrounding areas of Yakima and Benton counties.

How residents can help

Residents inside the treatment area are encouraged to prevent the spread of Japanese beetles by not moving items on which Japanese beetles can travel and spread. Soil, dirt or fill is encouraged to stay on site, including potted and outdoor plants. Waste or debris from yards, gardens, and other horticulture activities should also stay inside the treatment area.

People traveling in and out of the treatment area should check their vehicles and machines for Japanese beetles. Checking for hitchhikers can help protect Washington’s agriculture and natural resources. If you suspect Japanese beetle, report it. Take a picture and note the location, then visit WSDA’s online reporting form, email PestProgram@agr.wa.gov, or call 1-800-443-6684.

For more information visit agr.wa.gov/beetles. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Have you seen them? Meet your new Japanese beetle trappers

Amber Betts
WSDA Communications


If you live in the Grandview area, you have likely seen Washington State Department of Agriculture team members in bright yellow and orange vests around town. Why Grandview? Who are they? What are they doing?

Why Grandview?

A few years ago, WSDA discovered an infestation of Japanese beetle in Grandview and the surrounding areas. That was alarming, because the ramifications to local yards, as well as the implications on agriculture, could be devastating. So, we buckled down and got to work. It started with determining where exactly the infestation was. Our teams went out and set traps to see where the beetles had set up camp.
The team determined the infestation was inside a 49-square-mile grid, in Yakima and Benton counties, centered on the City of Grandview.
This year, we’ve expanded the efforts to include treating properties with the most concentrated area of Japanese beetles, setting traps for the pest, and working on establishing a proposed quarantine to limit the spread of the Japanese beetle population beyond the identified infestation area. Part of that effort included hiring several new trappers to increase the grid we are keeping an eye on.

(L-R) Amanda, Gabe, Drew, Brenda, Fernando. 





Who are they?

Amanda

The team’s supervisor, Amanda was born and raised in the Grandview area. She is looking forward to serving the community in which she lives, and helping save agriculture by ridding the area of this invasive pest.

Gabe

Originally from Florida, Gabe has lived in Washington state for about a year. He was drawn to WSDA and being part of the Japanese beetle eradication efforts because of the ability to benefit the community of Grandview.

Drew

Originally from Oregon, Drew and his family moved to Yakima. He was looking for a summer job while he looks for a job in his field of study, medical sciences. He loves being outside and is looking forward to the summer of Japanese beetle trapping.

Fernando

Fernando knows the importance of agriculture in Washington state. Growing up in the Yakima Valley, Fernando’s father owns a cherry orchard, and he has seen firsthand the type of damage a pest can do. He’s looking forward to being part of the effort to rid the area of this invasive pest.

Brenda

Brenda is looking forward to being part of the eradication and survey effort. She is excited to be part of the effort and to see the beetles firsthand. 

What are they doing?

The Japanese beetle trappers will be going around to each set trap during the “adult flight season” between May and October, checking for catches and recording their findings. There will be more than 2,500 traps set in the area, and each trap will be checked every 10-14 days. If you see the friendly, smiling face of someone wearing a bright yellow vest, please wave, and know they are working hard to get rid of this pest to protect our lawns, roses, and especially, our agriculture.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Old dairies embrace new ideas

Karla Salp
Communications

Dairy cows eating hay in barn

Dungeness Valley Creamery is a family farm that started with 20 cows in 1971. In 1989, it moved to its current location and operated as a traditional dairy. In 2006, the dairy transitioned to producing raw milk*. That, however, was far from the last innovation on the farm. 

Saving energy

Driving by the farm today, a passerby might notice the solar panels on the south-facing side of the barn roof installed to reduce the amount of energy they demand from the grid. While they were at it, they installed an electric car charging station for customer use. In 2017, the farm did an energy audit through USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service that identified additional opportunities to reduce energy consumption. That led to converting all-electric motors to variable frequency drives, relocating some walk-in cooler condensers for better efficiency, and the installation of the GEA XeTherm heat recovery system. The XeTherm takes the heat generated from the refrigeration process and passes it through a plate cooler to pre-heat warm water before it goes into the water heater. Combined, these changes are saving over 36,000 kWh each year.

Comfy and clean

Calf napping

The cows on the dairy spend seven months of the year on rotational pasture – eating grass and lounging in fields as long as the weather allows. Once the weather turns, the cows head to the barn for the winter where - when they are not eating, being milked, or getting a scratch from the rotary brush – the cows can rest on “pasture mats.” The mats have a combination of recycled rubber padding and foam and are designed to replicate the comfort of pasture. 

The barn also has a system that flushes the barn to clean it and separate manure liquids from solids. The system cleans each alley in the barn six times per day. They are, of course, cows and relieve themselves whether their alley was just cleaned or not. But the system allows for frequent cleaning – much more often than could be accomplished manually. 

Cleaning doesn’t stop with the barn floor. The farm also has an automatic milk tank and pipeline cleaning system. Sanitation cycles improve consistency and cleanliness and increase employee safety by making sanitation hands-off. They also added a new system that injects a sanitizing solution into the water so to reduce bacteria loads on floors and surfaces in the bottling plant. While sanitation is a priority for any dairy, it is especially so on a raw milk dairy that sells unpasteurized dairy products.

Solar panels on roof of barn
Environmental stewardship

Another change the dairy made was a big investment in installing an above-ground dairy nutrient storage tank. The tank holds nearly 600,000 gallons of liquid manure – going vertical substantially reducing the footprint of the previous in-ground lagoon while also further reducing the risk of contaminating groundwater.

Not alone

Dungeness Valley Creamery is not alone in taking steps to be more sustainable and environmentally conscious. Royal Dairy, for example, is making national news with its innovative management of the manure produced at its dairy near Royal City. This farm, which owner Austin Allred purchased from another dairy farmer, has 6,000 cows. That many cows produce not only a lot of milk but also a lot of something else – manure.

In 2018, Royal Dairy won the U.S. Dairy Sustainability award for what it was doing to manage all of that manure. To the rescue came another animal: worms. The liquid manure from the dairy goes through a screening process to remove the solids. Those solids are composted and used on farms and gardens. The remaining water is spread over pits comprised of a gravel bottom and several feet of wood chips in which countless worms live. Together, the wood chips and worms mimic nature’s natural process of breaking down nutrients and filtering water. The end result? Clean water that is recycled back to the dairy or used for irrigation on the farm.


Raising a glass to sustainability

Washington’s innovative dairies are not limited to remote areas like Sequim and Royal City. Krainick Dairy, for example, is a third-generation dairy that has made sustainability key to its farm and is located right in King County. True to a farmer’s nature, their form of sustainability matches and incorporates their unique situation of being in close proximity to urban areas – namely, the breweries in those urban areas.

Since 2007, the dairy has partnered with local breweries to use spent grain from the brewing process. The grain – which would otherwise end up in a landfill – is hauled to the farm and used as part of the cows’ diet. But the cycle doesn’t end there. The cow manure (are you picking up a theme that this is a big issue for all dairies to manage?) is composted by a state-of-the-art composting machine called the “Bedding Master.” The end product is used for bedding in stalls and the remainder is sold as certified organic compost for gardens.

The Krainicks have also embraced their local community. A favorite is growing and providing a giant pumpkin, which is used at a local festival. The pumpkin is filled with beer and then tapped for all to enjoy. Once again – nothing goes to waste. After the beer is gone and the party is over, the pumpkin returns to the farm for the cows to have the last bite.


These are just three examples of the creative, sustainable efforts for which Washington dairies are known. Learn more about Washington dairies from the Dairy Farmers of Washington

 

* Raw milk has not been pasteurized to kill potentially deadly bacteria that may be present. It poses a greater health risk to consumers for this reason. Raw milk sales are only legal in Washington from licensed dairies that are regularly inspected and tested for the presence of harmful bacteria in the milk. Learn more about raw milk and the risks associated with its consumption from the Washington State Department of Health. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Help detect and prevent Japanese beetle spread

Cassie Cichorz
WSDA Pest Program

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is asking the public to help prevent the spread of Japanese beetle.  

Japanese beetle is a non-native pest that feeds on over 300 plants by skeletonizing leaves. Their larvae feed on plant roots below the surface. Japanese beetles can lay many eggs in a cycle, making them difficult to control or eradicate. Japanese beetle would pose a serious threat to farms, gardens, and the environment if they became established in Washington State.

In Grandview, a resident reported picking as many as 75 beetles from her roses in a single day in 2020. WSDA trapped over 24,000 beetles in the same area in 2021. WSDA is conducting an eradication of this pest and is asking residents to respond by reporting, trapping, and providing treatment consent. 

What can you do?

If you are in Washington, you can monitor for this pest by being on the lookout. If you see Japanese beetle, please report it! 

Adults – seen in summer

  • 1/3 – ½ inch long
  • Metallic green head and thorax
  • Copper wing covers

Larvae (grubs) – seen in spring

  • 1/8 – 1 inch long
  • Brown/tan head with legs
  • Found in soil, especially in lawns

Take a picture of the pest, and note the location. Then visit our online reporting form to upload. You can also report by email at PestProgram@agr.wa.gov, or call 1-800-443-6684. 

If you reside in Grandview, you only need to report when trapping for beetles. 

Yakima and Benton County residents

In addition to monitoring and reporting for Japanese beetle, you can trap beetles yourself!

Trapping will catch adult beetles, which can lower their current population, and is another way to control this pest. A wide variety of traps are available for purchase, or you can make one yourself. 

Japanese beetle drop-off container in Grandview

WSDA suggests placing traps from mid-May through mid-October when the adult beetles are active. When placing a trap, remember to keep it on your property. Make sure to check your trap periodically and replace as needed. 

If you capture any beetles, please report them. You can report by leaving the catch at the drop-off location, or sending in a report.

If you live near Grandview, a drop-off cooler has been placed inside Blehyl Co-op at 940 E Wine Country Road. The cooler is located inside the entrance of the store on the left. Please write the trap’s address on your collection.

If you are not near the drop-off location, take a picture of your trap capture and note the trap’s location. Then upload that information to our online reporting form, email PestProgram@agr.wa.gov, or call 1-800-443-6684.

Treatment area residents

If you live in or around the Grandview area, you may be inside the 49-square-mile treatment zone. You can help prevent the spread of Japanese beetles by not moving items on which they can travel and spread. 

Japanese beetle eggs and larvae live in the soil below the surface, so don’t move soil or fill, and leave soil on site. Also if you have any potted or outdoor plants, do not move them.

Adult beetles can travel on waste or debris from yards, gardens, and other horticulture activities. If you landscape or garden, leave your lawn clippings, leaves, weeds, and garden debris in the treatment area. 


Free treatment

Free treatments for Japanese beetle are continuing in the Grandview area. This helps prevent the establishment of this invasive pest. You can give consent to have your property treated by going to agr.wa.gov/beetles. You will need to provide your unique property ID number. If you need help obtaining this, contact us at PestProgram@agr.wa.gov or 1-800-443.6684.

WSDA has hired a contractor to apply the treatment, and our staff will be in the field monitoring the treatment progress. Treatments are relatively fast and you do not need to be home for the process.

Stay connected

WSDA is dedicated to working with the public to provide information on Japanese beetle. WSDA has taken pictures of the pest around the Grandview area, to view images please visit flickr.com/wsdagov.

View the Pest Alert for Japanese beetle. 

Follow WSDA on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter

Friday, May 20, 2022

This summer, "adopt a wasp" to help monitor for Asian giant hornets

Cassie Cichorz
Pest Program

WSDA invites you to help watch for Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) this summer. Join our new citizen science project to adopt a structure with paper wasp nests and observe the nests weekly from June through October. If you'd like to do even more, WSDA will continue to invite residents to participate in citizen scientist trapping for hornets too.

Over the last two years, residents of Whatcom County have noticed hornets attacking paper wasp nests. In 2021, WSDA tracked a hornet and observed it repeatedly visiting the same paper wasp nest. Each visit lasted five to ten minutes and the hornet removed paper wasp larvae.  

Paper wasps can grow to about ¾ of an inch long and have a well-defined “wasp waist” that makes them easy to identify. Paper wasps are typically not aggressive and do not readily attack people, but they can sting if threatened. They form small colonies and build hanging, open comb nests on building eaves, frames, abandoned cars, or branches of trees and shrubs. Paper wasp nests vary in size and are usually gray to brown in color. They are made up of many exposed cells that are less than an inch deep. Nests typically range from the size of a quarter to as wide as a coffee can lid, but can be larger.


Although we invite anyone in Washington to participate in adopting a paper wasp nest, we are particularly interested in observations from Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Snohomish, King, Jefferson, and Clallam counties.

LOCATE

Starting in June, locate nests that you have access to and can monitor through October. Log the nest locations using the Adopt A Paper Wasp Registration Form. After submission, you’ll receive an email confirmation which will include a unique Site ID assigned to your nest location. You will need to save this Site ID to use during weekly check-ins. (Please do not register any sites before June 1.) Click here to access the registration form. When you register, you’ll have the option to sign up for weekly email reminders to check your wasp nests. You can also sign up for weekly text reminders by texting JOIN WASP to 1-800-443-6684.

MONITOR

Each week visit the nests, observe, and report online if any hornet or wasp activity is happening at the nest. WSDA asks you to monitor the nests for at least five minutes during the day once per week, but you can check the nests for as long and often as you would like. 

REPORT

After monitoring you will need to report each of your observations on the Paper Wasp Nest Check-in form. You will also need your Site ID that was received in a confirmation email. Click here to report and access the Check-in form.

However, if you think you spot an Asian giant hornet (it will be significantly larger than the paper wasps), safely take a photo and report it at agr.wa.gov/hornets or by emailing hornets@agr.wa.gov.

Stay Connected

WSDA is dedicated to working with the public and to providing information on Asian giant hornets.

·        Join the Asian giant hornet Facebook group.

·        Join the Pest Program email listserv.

Follow WSDA on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter