April is “Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness” Month!

April is “Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness” Month! This time of the year is when many of the invasive species attack crops in rural America.

According to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Samantha Simon, “These are twenty hungry pests that are highly damaging and can cause damage to U.S. agriculture, for our citrus growers, for our winegrowers, the lumber industry, and our maple syrup producers.”

She shares the most common pests: “The best-known hungry pests are emerald ash borer beetle, exotic fruit flies, Asian longhorn beetle, and spotted lanternfly, as well as a disease that’s called citrus greening disease.”

Invasive species can cause a significant amount of economic damage.

“Invasive insects and plant diseases cost the U.S. an estimated $40 billion dollars in damages each year to our trees, our plants, our crops, and they threaten our economy, our food supply, and our environment,” she adds.

Pests are most commonly spread by water, light, heat, or fertilizer, with people being one of the most common.

“Unfortunately, people can spread hungry pests by way of items that they move, such as plants and fruits, or through untreated firewood, or outdoor items,” she explains. “These items might be hiding egg masses or other stowaways.”

So, how can you help prevent spreading pests?

Simon states, “Never move untreated firewood. If they are buying seeds or plants, it is important to try to buy them domestically. If you’re buying online, please make sure and check the origin and the importing requirements to make sure that you’re purchasing plants or seeds that meet our requirements if they’re originating from overseas.”

She goes on to state that if you find any signs of invasive pests, it is important to take the right steps as soon as possible.