Wildfires have already scorched more than one million acres across the Northwest this year. It may take years before the signs of the burns are no longer visible. But charred Northwest forests are already a-buzz with new life.
Burned forests are not quiet places.
“It’s very lively in the forest immediately after a fire," says Connie Mehmel. "Very lively. And a lot of that liveliness is insects.”
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 in Ada and Canyon counties.
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.