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Feds Confirm Mysterious Idaho Bug Is New Pest In U.S.

Jessica Robinson


Federal agriculture officials say the Northwest has the first appearance in the country of an invasive insect known as the “elm seed bug.” The pest was discovered in southern Idaho . It doesn’t pose a threat to crops or livestock. But it could prove to be a major nuisance for homeowners.

A few weeks ago, Ken Pollard started noticing small, brown, winged insects invading his home in Nampa, Idaho.

“We were wondering if we had done something weird with our house that we were being picked on by nature,” he says.

The insects didn’t bite or get into his food. But as soon as he killed them, more seemed to arrive.

“They can get right through the joint of a doorway, a closed door. And I’m looking at the door right now," Pollard says. "I see one on the door, two on the door, three or four on the wall ...”

Turns out, hundreds of Idahoans reported the same mysterious insect. The USDA has identified it as an elm seed bug –- an insect well known and despised in northern Italy, where it escapes the summer heat in people’s homes.

It’s not clear how it got to the U.S. And Ariel Agenbroad of the University of Idaho Extension says she still doesn’t know how well the insect will survive here.

“Because it’s a new invader we just go off of what we’ve observed about its behavior and what we know about similar insects in similar environments.”

Agenbroad suggests homeowners seal cracks around their windows and doors, and if necessary, spray bug killer outside.

One the Web:

In Italian: “Comice dell’olmo” or "elm bug"

Idaho Invasive Species Program:

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network