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Diagnostic Plant Clinic

Program Contact: Yakima Master Gardeners
(509) 574-1604 •
Yakima County WSU Extension Office
Yakima County WSU Extension Office


Master Gardeners are on hand to help you with issues in your home and back yard. Our Plant Clinic is stocked with a large library of resources, modern technology, and motivated, trained, and experienced Master Gardeners.  It helps us help you if you can bring in samples to support your questions… branches of a sick plant, insects that you’ve trapped, photos, etc.

During the growing season, there are folks at your service in the Clinic on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (except the noon lunch hour). At other days and times, you can call and leave a message. We will research your issue, and contact you as soon as possible. We suggest you take pictures, if appropriate and possible, related to your question and email them to us. That will help us diagnose the issue.


Bed bugs
Bed bugs and larva of many different sizes

The Common Bed Bug

In general, the gardening clinic is quiet in the month of January. This would be a good time to discuss what typically comes into the clinics during January. Here in Yakima, we have responded to over 50 pest diagnosis over the past four years.  A lot of January problems are caused by household pests including bugs, spiders, pantry pests and nuisance pests that come into the home to escape winter conditions.

So what is the most frequent pest observed in Central Washington during the month of January? Nearly 20% of the diagnoses and recommendations dealt with the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius. No one can point to any one factor that contributes to the rise of bed bugs, but some of the factors involved may be increased inter-regional travel, and regulations limiting the use of effective pesticides.

Problem: Often clients come in asking what the devil is biting them while they are sleeping? If you are lucky, they bring in what it is they think is biting them.

Diagnostics: Looking at the “bites” is of little value for diagnosis; the client needs to bring in a sample of the pest. Look for them in bedding and in areas where you sleep.  To catch bed bugs and other potential pests that bite humans, scotch tape works well. Adult bed bugs are light brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, quite flat, lack wings and have a long needle-like mouthparts that allow them to puncture then suck blood from beneath human skin. Unfortunately, immature bed bugs can be as small as 1/8 inch long and most difficult to see.

Recommendations: It is important to note that bed bugs can happen to anyone these days. Management of this pest is based on cleanliness of bedding and bed, or creating a barrier between an infested bedroom and the sleeping client (remember no wings, so bed bugs can only crawl in bed).  Bed bug-proof mattress and spring encasements have been proven useful. Unfortunately, most people prefer to eradicate, not manage, bed bugs. This requires the services of a pest control specialist who can properly handle effective pesticide products AND an integrated pest management program for the household that includes non-chemical strategies such as properly and regularly cleaning bedding, reducing bedroom clutter, and maintaining a barrier that keeps bed bugs from climbing in bed.


WSU Extension Pestsense

WSU Fact Sheet070E- Bed Bugs: Recognition and Management