(Washington, D.C., April 1, 2019) – Spring is a popular time to move, but unfortunately, people aren’t the only ones on the move. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today signed a national proclamation (PDF, 579 KB) to declare April “Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month,” during a critical time when damaging invasive species known as Hungry Pests emerge and can be easily spread in the things people pack and move, such as outdoor items like grills, gardening equipment, wading pools and bicycles or patio furniture.
Hungry Pests are a real problem. They attack trees, plants and agriculture, costing the United States about $40 billion each year in damages and expensive eradication and control efforts. Household moves increase the risk for the spread of these invasive species, since people can potentially transport them to new areas.
About 35 million Americans move every year, making the possibility of transporting invasive pests high. For instance, federal and state inspectors often find gypsy moth egg masses on outdoor household items and recreational vehicles in non-infested areas. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) is offering a free checklist for household moves that includes suggestions and tips for reducing this risk. The agency is also working with the United States Postal Service’s My Move program to help educate the moving public about the things they can do to help prevent the spread of Hungry Pests.
“Hungry Pests can hide inside plants, fruits, vegetables and firewood, and spread in a number of ways, like on outdoor items you move to a new home or on an RV that has been parked outside and driven cross-country,” said Kevin Shea, APHIS Administrator. “It only takes one person to start a new infestation, which is why we all need to be careful and understand how to stop invasive pests.”
Here are key ways the public can help:
In addition to moves, pests can also be spread by:
Finally, learn more by going to www.hungrypests.com or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. The website includes photos and descriptions of each Hungry Pest, and a Pest Tracker to find those in your state. To report a pest or contact your local APHIS office, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/sphd or call USDA Customer Service toll free at 1-844-820-2234 (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern).
Click here to learn more.