Cecilia Sequeira, (301) 851-4054
Suzanne Bond, (301) 851-4070
WASHINGTON, April 5, 2022—The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared April 2022 Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month (IPPDAM). This national outreach month is dedicated to highlighting the impact invasive plant pests and diseases have on plant health nationwide and educates Americans about the simple actions they can take to help reduce their spread. Hungry, invasive pests threaten our nation’s food crops, gardens, and natural resources. IPPDAM aims to raise public awareness about the threat, which can devastate livelihoods, food security, and forests.
“As people start to spend more time outdoors this spring, we ask them to remain vigilant for signs of invasive pests, which begin to emerge as the temperatures rise,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack. “Invasive insects and plant diseases cost the U.S. an estimated $40 billion a year in damages to plants we depend on. It’s important to do what we can to slow their spread and reduce the impact they have on our communities.”
Many invasive plant pests and diseases are natural hitchhikers—making it easy for people to unintentionally move them to new areas. These nonnative pests can hide in untreated firewood, attach themselves to outdoor gear and vehicles, and take a ride in the mail. They can also hitch a ride to new areas on agricultural material such as soil, seeds, homegrown produce, and plants.
Invasive pests have few or no natural predators in their new environments and can quickly spread—disrupting ecosystems by pushing out native species and reducing biological diversity. Weather can magnify their impact. Climate change has increased the level of plant pest infestations and disease infection, allowed pests to produce more generations each year, and extended the suitable habitat for plant pests. To protect local ecosystems and our domestic food supply, it’s important to enlist the public in the effort to protect plant health. Together we can make a difference.
Here’s what you can do:
Expand your reach. Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter and follow #PlantHealth and #IPPDAM on social media. To learn more about invasive plant pests in your area and how to stop them, visit HungryPests.com
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.