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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Pest Detection

The Pest Detection program supports APHIS’ goal of safeguarding U.S. agricultural and environmental resources by ensuring that new introductions of harmful plant pests and diseases are detected as soon as possible, before they have a chance to cause significant damage.  A strong domestic agricultural pest detection system is an essential element in providing a continuum of checks from offshore preclearance programs, domestic port inspections, and surveys in rural and urban sites across the United States.  The program uses a multi-pronged strategy to accomplish its mission, involving:

  • A structured, transparent assessment process to identify pest threats,
  • Development of scientifically sound pest diagnostics and survey protocols,
  • Providing survey materials (traps, lures, etc.),
  • Conducting the actual pest surveys,
  • Timely reporting of pest survey results through an approved database,
  • Ensuring that the data collected is valid and of high quality, and
  • Notification of significant pest detections through established protocols.

These efforts are accomplished by involving stakeholders and the scientific community, and leveraging efforts by other Agencies in USDA, government entities, State departments of agriculture, universities, and industry partners. APHIS and its State cooperators carry out surveys for high-risk pests through a network of cooperators in the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) program.

The CAPS program conducts science-based national and state surveys targeted at specific exotic plant pests, diseases, and weeds identified as threats to U.S. agriculture and/or the environment. These activities are accomplished primarily under USDA funding that is provided through cooperative agreements with state departments of agriculture, universities, and other entities. Surveys conducted through the CAPS Program represent a second line of defense against the entry of harmful plant pests and weeds. These efforts support inspections of commodities, conveyances, and passenger baggage conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at sea ports, airports, and land border crossings. The program is continuing to develop commodity-based and resource-based surveys. These surveys enable the program to target high-risk hosts and commodities, gather data about pests specific to a commodity, and establish better baseline data about pests that were recently introduced in the United States. The mission of the CAPS program is to provide a survey profile of exotic plant pests in the United States deemed to be of regulatory significance through early detection and surveillance activities.

News and Information


National Pest Surveillance Guidelines



John Crowe
National Policy Manager 
Telephone: 301-851-2108

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