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Spread The Message, Not The Pests

April 18, 2013

April is Invasive Plant Pest Disease and Awareness Month

PestMan_01 They’re here, and they’re hungry! Invasive species, that is. These Hungry Pests feast on and infest America’s agriculture, damage our parks and forests, wreck our gardens, and throw our ecosystem off balance. Since they don’t always have natural predators, their numbers can become overwhelming if left unchecked. In fact, the economic impact of invasive species is estimated to exceed $1 billion annually in the United States due to lost revenue and clean up costs.

What can you do to help leave Hungry Pests behind? Prevent their introduction in the first place. Here are some easy steps:

  • Buy local, burn local. Since pests and larvae can hide and ride long distances in firewood, buy firewood where you burn it. If you must move firewood, make sure it has been heat-treated.
  • Plant carefully. Buy garden plants from a reputable source and avoid using invasive plant species at all costs.
  • Do not bring or mail fresh fruits, vegetables or plants into your state or another state unless agricultural inspectors have cleared them beforehand.
  • Cooperate with any agricultural quarantine restrictions and allow authorized agricultural workers access to your property for pest or disease surveys.
  • Keep it clean. Wash outdoor gear and tires between fishing, hunting or camping trips. Clean lawn furniture and other outdoor items when moving from one home to another.
  • Learn to identify. If you see signs of an invasive pest or disease, write down or take a picture of what you see and then report it at www.HungryPests.com.
  • Speak up. Declare all agricultural items to customs officials when returning from international travel. Call USDA to find out what’s allowed: (301) 851-2046 for plants, (301) 851-3300 for animals. Go to http://www.aphis.usda.gov/travel/ to learn more.

Talk to friends and neighbors about hungry pests. And for more information, visit http://www.HungryPests.com

Linus suitcaseAs a regulatory agency of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry works to detect, intercept and control plant and honey bee pests that threaten Florida’s native and commercially grown plants and agricultural resources. We are a partner in the “Hungry Pests” initiative, launched by the USDA to create nationwide awareness of the issue and empower people to take action. For Florida-specific information on hungry pests, as well as the Travelers’ “Don’t Pack a Pest”  program, visit http://www.freshfromflorida.com/pi/ 

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