The month of April has been declared Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month by the United States Department of Agriculture.  According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “Invasive species threaten our food security, agricultural livelihoods, and way of life.”  As a former Board Member of the Yakima Area Arboretum, I am proud to report that your Arboretum has collaborated with the Washington State Department of Agriculture and Washington State University to monitor and contain invasive pest species since the turn of the 21st Century (probably much longer).  Last year alone, the Arboretum collaborated in a survey trapping for invasive species such as apple maggot, brown marmorated stink bug and other invasive pests.  The Arboretum has taken measures to eradicate apple maggot and tree-of-heaven from the grounds.  They have granted WSDA the opportunity to release and study beneficial insects that should help reduce invasive insect abundance.

As an employee of the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), I will be seeking collaboration from the Yakima Arboretum Arboretum AND its valued members to help us in detecting and reporting on any invasive invasive insect species that WSDA feels could have a serious impact on our way of life and/or on local agriculture here in eastern Wash WA.  Indeed, the early reporting of Japanese beetles on roses by a citizen in the Grandview community has triggered a ongoing response from the State of Washington to eradicate this pest before it becomes established in eastern Washington and threatens home landscapes as well as key agricultural commodities.

Social media is becoming an invaluable tool that WSDA uses to engage the local community in our efforts.  At each of these websites you will find opportunities to watch videos, join email listservs, Facebook groups, WSDA blogs and report potential sightings of these pests of concern for our state.

Japanese beetle –
Spotted lanternfly (and its host tree-of-heaven) –
Spongy moth –
Apple maggot –
Northern giant hornet –

They say that a photo is worth a thousand words and this is one of the most helpful ways to report to WSDA, WSU or to other state or tribal agencies with concerns for invasive pests.  To make things easier for concerned (or curious) community members, you can download a free app for your phone or tablet to report a sighting on-line  Ironically if you go this route to report a potential sighting, chances are I might be diagnostician who replies.  Fear not though, I have gained 25 years’ experience through working with the WSU Extension, Yakima Arboretum and now WSDA.

Michael R. Bush, Ph.D.
Washington State Department of Agriculture
21 North 1st Ave, Suite 103
Yakima, WA 98902