Help stop invasive plants, pests from invading Virginia

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesApril is National Invasive Plant, Pest and Disease Awareness Month. During this month, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is raising awareness of the threat invasive species pose to the state’s agricultural and natural resources.

Invasive species, such as the spotted lanternfly, Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, imported fire ant, boxwood blight and giant hogweed, wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects, severely damage crops and potentially cause the closure of foreign markets to those U.S. products that originated in infested areas.

Once invasive pests become established, they can grow and spread rapidly, often due to no natural predators in their new environment. Invasive pests cost landowners, industry and the government millions of dollars to control.

Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.

The public can help reduce the spread of invasive pests and plants by following these simple steps:

  • Do not move firewood over long distances as it can be a carrier of invasive insects and diseases. Use firewood that originates from the area where it will be burned. Gypsy moth egg cases and emerald ash borer larvae can hitch a ride on and within firewood and start infestations in new areas.
  • Before leaving a work site, look for and remove any insects, seeds and other plant parts that may be on your equipment, boots, gear and vehicle.
  • Consult with your local nursery or master gardener to select plants that are not invasive for landscaping and gardening projects. Varieties of beautiful native plants that thrive in your local environment are available at local nurseries and garden centers.
  • Do not plant seeds of invasive plants in wildlife food plots.

Anyone suspecting an invasive pest in their area should contact VDACS’s Office of Plant Industry Services at 804.786.3515, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at 804.226.5262 or their local Virginia Cooperative Extension Service agent at ext.vt.edu/offices.html.

For more information on invasive plants, pests and diseases, visit hungrypests.com.


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