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Invasive plant pests are tremendous threat to Virginia crops, human health

spotted lanternfly virginia tech
Photo courtesy Virginia Tech

Non-native, destructive insects, plant diseases and harmful weeds are a tremendous threat to the Virginia’s crops and forests, and can seriously harm the economy, environment and even human health, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Once invasive pests become established, they can grow and spread rapidly, often because they have no natural predators in their new environment and limited management options.

Invasive species

  • Asian Longhorned Beetle
  • Spongy Moth
  • Imported Fire Ant
  • Spotted Lanternfly
  • Boxwood Blight
  • Vascular Streak Dieback
  • Thousand Canker Disease
  • Wavyleaf Basketgrass
  • Purple Loosestrife

Invasive species can wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects, severely damage crops and potentially cause the closure of foreign markets to U.S. products that originated from infested areas.

Steps to stop the spread of invasive pests

  • Don’t 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. Spotted lanternfly and spongy moth eggs can hitch a ride on firewood and start infestations in new areas
  • Before leaving a work or recreational site, look for and remove any insects, seeds and other plant parts that might be attached to 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
  • Don’t plant seeds of invasive plants in wildlife food plots
  • Always declare any plant material brought into the United States when returning from a trip abroad

Anyone suspecting an invasive plant pest or disease in their area should contact VDACS at [email protected],

More information on invasive plant pests and diseases can be found at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant-pests-diseases.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.