Pests can hitchhike on plants and other agricultural items sent through both international and domestic mail and by express courier. Whether you’re sending a package or receiving one, there are simple steps you can take to help protect our nation’s farms and forests from invasive plant pests and diseases.
Invasive plant pests and diseases.
Insects, snails, slugs, mites, microscopic worms, noxious weeds, and plant diseases are dangerous hitchhikers. They can travel on agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, plants, soil, flowers, seeds, herbal medicines, and plant-based handicrafts, that are mailed within the United States and from foreign countries.
What's at risk.
Your plants and gardens, commercial food crops and grocery bill! Agricultural items mailed to you from overseas or domestic quarantined areas can hide hungry pests. Even if you throw the mailed item away, it could still lead to an outbreak of a new pest.
These pests attack America's agriculture, food supply, forests, ecosystems, community landscapes, and backyard gardens. Crop losses and treatments to eradicate invasive pests cost farmers, the government, and U.S, taxpayers billions of dollars every year. The outbreak of a new pest could impact the amount you pay for food.
A pest outbreak is bad for America’s export business too. Foreign markets could close to U.S. products from infested or infected areas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Ask family and friends (here and overseas) to alert you before they mail food, plants or other agricultural items to you so you can check first with your nearest
to make sure they’re safe to send. Also, check with your local
before mailing any items from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. mainland.
Never mail or ship plants or other agricultural items from areas within the United States under federal or state quarantine for an invasive pest or you may spread them to new areas. Go to Pest Tracker
to see which areas have quarantines.
Although you may have legally mailed an agricultural item in the past, regulations may change. Contact your
to find out whether you can mail the item again.
If you ever receive seeds, plants, or plant parts for planting that you didn’t order or request, save the items and the packaging they came in and report the incident to your USDA State Plant Health Director. Never plant seeds or plants from unknown origins.
When ordering online, don’t assume items available from foreign retailers are legal to import into the United States. Those shippers may not be aware of U.S. regulations regarding restricted items or care about your liability as the importer.Visit the Internet Sales page for more information on responsible shopping practices.
Learn more about safely receiving foreign products in the mail here.