SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash. -- Entomologists just captured a second stink bug in Skagit County that could have devastating impacts on crops and the economy if it continues to spread, they said.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug was found on Monday in a Washington State University Skagit County Extension trap in the south end of the county. The first bug was captured in a different trap on June 26.
The bug sucks the juice out of crops like vegetables, fruits, and berries, and essentially breaks them down, said Entomology Coordinator Talea Price.
The bug caught East Coast growers off guard.
Now that they've been detected here, the fear is the population could spread and potentially devastate the economy, Price said.
"Anything that effects something that we produce, we’re going to be concerned about because any of those types of pests have the potential to cause large economic damage or possibly even put farmers out of business," said hazelnut grower Fred Devries.
Price and her team want growers like Devries to be on the lookout for the bug. It has distinctive features that separate it from other types of stink bugs. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has dark antennae with white bands on them, its shoulders are smooth, and there are distinct black and white patterns on the abdomen.
"This brown marmorated stink bug will actually go after agricultural products. So, a lot of our native stink bugs they stay to the trees. They stay to the areas around the farms. They don’t actually come to the farms. Where the Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs will go to the crops," said Price. "In early July, you start looking for the adults because they’re feeding."
Two different types of traps have been placed in five spots across Skagit County to get a better idea of where they are. Two of the traps have been setup on the edge of Devries' orchard. There's been no sign of the Brown Marmolated Stink Bug on his property.
"We need to be able to tell the farmers what they’re up against, and what type of numbers and where they are," said Price. "So, we’re trying to identify which trap is best. And then once we do, we’ll be able to put them all over the county."
The WSU Skagit County Extension has notified local farmers and gardeners to urge them to monitor their fields and report sightings of the stink bugs.
Homeowners aren't exempt from damages either. The pests release pheromones during the winter, causing them to huddle against buildings by the thousands.
Along with their bad smell, they'll damage trees and home gardens.
If you spot one of the bugs, you're encouraged to try to trap it and bring it to a WSU extension office or contact a Master Gardener.