WASHINGTON, April 2, 2018 – It’s spring, which means many invasive Hungry Pests are emerging and will soon begin feeding on trees, plants and crops. These destructive species – which include the emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and citrus greening disease – cost the nation $40 billion each year in damages and expensive eradication and control efforts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has just added the European cherry fruit fly to this growing list. Fortunately, individuals can help slow or even stop Hungry Pests from spreading. That’s why April has been designated “Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.”
Hungry Pests are invasive species that disrupt ecosystems, threatening to push out and eliminate native species. The European cherry fruit fly, the 20th pest in the group, attacks cherries. This pest was detected in the United States for the first time when fruit flies were caught in traps along the Niagara River in New York last year. If left unchecked, this pest could threaten cherry production in the United States. It can be introduced to new places through the movement of soil or infested fruit from areas where the pest occurs.
“Controlling the spread of invasive pests depends on everyone,” said APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine Deputy Administrator Osama El-Lissy. “The main thing to remember is that if you move an item from one place to another, you have the potential to spread pests. So, before you bring back a souvenir from a trip, pack up a moving van or share vegetables from your garden, make sure your actions are safe ones.”
Here’s how you can help keep invasive pests from spreading now and throughout the year:
To learn more, visit www.HungryPests.com or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. The website includes photos and descriptions of 20 invasive pests that can be moved easily by people, an online federal quarantine tracker by state and phone numbers for reporting signs of invasive pests. Questions? Visit www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/sphd to find contact information for your local USDA office. Or call USDA’s Customer Service Call Center toll-free at 1-844-820-2234 (open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern).
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.