The smoky-winged ash aphid – a little gray-blue critter flittering around tree-lined residential areas in the Inland Northwest this month – is a harmless but sometimes annoying insect that typically emerges when the weather turns cooler in October, a plant expert said Tuesday.
Dan Lambert, a plant clinic specialist for the Washington State University Master Gardener program in Spokane County, said the aphids come out of the ground to complete their life cycles by moving from the ground into ash trees where they mate and lay eggs.
The aphids feed in mature firs in the spring and go underground during summer to reproduce asexually. They are a part of the natural life cycle in the Inland Northwest and are best left alone, Lambert said.
“It’s one of those environmental wonders,” he said.
Reed expects average turnout
About half of all voters in Washington state will cast ballots in the next two weeks, Secretary of State Sam Reed predicted Tuesday.
Reed, the state’s top election official, said 2009 should be about average for an off-year election with no statewide candidate race. Record turnout in 2008 was fueled by the presidential election, a governor’s race and other high-profile campaigns. Reed projected a total state turnout of 51 percent and a Spokane County turnout of 50 percent.
Ballots were mailed last week to all voters in most Washington counties. Registered voters who have not received a ballot should call their county elections office. In Spokane County, call (509) 477-2320.
Grave vandalized with gang signs
PASCO – The grave of a Pasco man killed in a gang fight was desecrated.
Family members of the 38-year-old man who was gunned down in April, Eutimio Vivero-Martinez, say they found gang signs in blue paint on his grave marker over the weekend. Flowers and a red bandanna were burned on the stone and urine left in a vase.
Convicted in the killing, 17-year-old Christopher Ruesga was sentenced Oct. 9 to 15 years in prison. Officials said he is a member of a gang that associates with the color blue.