The state Department of Agriculture is asking Everett residents to look out for an oversized grasshopper not native to the U.S.
Federal entomologists have recently confirmed the first sighting of an Egyptian grasshopper in Washington. The giant insect, which has distinctive vertically striped eyes, was spotted by an Everett resident in April, said WSDA spokesperson Karla Salp.
Now the WSDA is asking for the public’s help to determine whether the sighting was an isolated incident.
In July, an Atlas moth took a University of Washington entomologist and state officials by surprise when it appeared in Bellevue. The entomologist said the moth could have been an escapee from someone illegally selling live cocoons, as an eBay listing advertised such sales in the neighborhood.
“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,” WSDA entomologist Sven Spichiger said in a news release.
There’s currently no evidence of an established population of the huge insects.
Adult Egyptian grasshoppers are typically olive, gray or brown, while juveniles are green and tend to blend in with vegetation. The insect’s most distinctive characteristic is its eyes, which have a black striped pattern. Males can reach 2 inches long while females can be 3 inches long.
Egyptian grasshoppers typically feed on leaves and could pose a risk to crops, orchards and vineyards, according to the WSDA.
If you believe you’ve seen an Egyptian grasshopper, send a photo with a location to email@example.com. If you live outside of Washington state, report the sighting to your state plant health director.