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Press Releases

April 1, 2024
Avoid the Introduction and Spread of Invasive Plant Pest and Disease
April is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month
Contact: Michael Wallace

April is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages the public to help reduce the threat that invasive plant pests and diseases pose to the Commonwealth’s agricultural and natural resources.

Non-native, destructive insects, plant diseases and harmful weeds are a tremendous threat to the Commonwealth’s crops and forests, and can seriously harm the economy, environment, and even human health. 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, such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle, Spongy Moth, Imported Fire Ant, Spotted Lanternfly, Boxwood Blight, Vascular Streak Dieback, Thousand Cankers Disease, Wavyleaf Basketgrass, and Purple Loosestrife 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.

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 following are a few simple steps to help avoid and 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. A wide variety of beautiful native plants that thrive in your local environment are available at local nurseries and garden centers.
  • 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’s Office of Plant Industry Services at ReportAPest@vdacs.virginia.gov, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at 804.226.5262 or their local Virginia Cooperative Extension Service agent.

More information on invasive plant pests and diseases available here.

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