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April 10, 2014
GARDENERS CAN TAKE SIMPLE ACTIONS TO AVOID THE SPREAD OF INVASIVE SPECIES

~ April is Invasive Plant, Pest and Disease Awareness Month ~
Office of the Governor: Rachel Thomas, 804.225.4262

Photo of a Emerald Ash Borer.April is National Invasive Plant, Pest and Disease Awareness Month and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) urges residents to help stop the threat that invasive plants and pests pose to the state’s agricultural and natural resources. Gardeners can take several easy, low or no cost steps to help reduce the spread of invasive pests and plants.

Not moving firewood from one location to another is one of those steps. Travelers such as Gypsy Moth egg cases or Emerald Ash Borer larvae can make the trip with the wood and start infestations in new areas.

While the term “invasive plants, pests and diseases” may not be familiar to every Virginian, the effects of their presence in our state should be of concern to everyone. These organisms, such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, Gypsy Moth, Imported Fire Ants and Thousand Cankers Disease, wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects, severely damage crops and close foreign markets to U.S. products from infested areas. They cost industry and governments millions of dollars to control, so one of the best responses is prevention.

Due to increased globalization and international travel, invasive pests often arrive in the country on cargo ships or with returning travelers. Once the invasive pests are here, they can grow and spread rapidly, often because they have no natural predators in this country.

Consumers, travelers and gardeners can take the following steps to help reduce the spread of invasive pests and plants:

The earlier invasive species are detected, the easier and cheaper it is to control them. If you suspect you have an invasive pest in your area, contact one or more of the following: a local Virginia Cooperative Extension Service agentl, VDACS’ Office of Plant and Industry Services at 804.786.3515 or USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and click on “Report a pest or disease.” 

Click here for more information on invasive plants, pests and diseases can be found on USDA’s Hungry Pests website.

VDACS posts all of its news releases on Facebook and Twitter. To receive immediate updates, follow us on Twitter @VaAgriculture or like us on facebook.com/VaAgriculture.

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