Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Edouards Baltars - Collection of Mile-a-minute in Maryland Aug. 23, 1964

Eduards Baltars, Aug 23, 1964. Baltimore County. Polygonum perfoliatum (Persicaria perfoliata). Norton Brown Herbarium University of Maryland, College Park #3603:

for the Story of the Introduction of Mile-a-Minute see;
History of the Introduction of Mile-a-minute weed (vine) - Persicaria perfoliata

               We live in a society where it is not so much what you know but what boxes you have checked off along the way to a piece of paper that is important. And then once armed with the correct documentation, the inclination is to assume those who have not checked the same boxes must by definition not have knowledge or information worth knowing or hearing.

               Edouards Baltars had much to offer a world that did not listen and is paying the price. Eduards Baltars left a legacy quietly forgotten that sounded the alrm about ivnasive species before invasive species issues were taught or thought about or even cool. Edouards Baltars lived and worked in forgotten silence at the very beginning of the ideas of invasion biology.

               And because he was "just" a carpenter, those who should have been listening, never heard his crystal clear clarion call to action; his warning about Mile-a-minute vine in North America. 15 years before the modern literature began to ring with alarm, the knowledgable  carpenter  saw, collected and stated the problem of Persicaria perfoliata, which he knew as Polygonum perfoliatum.

               Eduards Baltars was not just a carpenter of course, but a trained botanist without the proper creditals or language skills to get along in his adopted country. Born in Riga, Latvia, he and his wife, Marta, had fled the country after World War II arriving in the United States in 1944. Here because his language skills were not consider adequate , the university trained botanist found work as a carpenter. He knew enough to teach or work in a public research institution, but there was no mechanism that recognized his knowledge and experience.

               Over the next two decades he would devote his free time to Maryland's flora volunteering his skills and knowledge to plant and carefor a native plant garden in Baltimore, as well as collecting and mounting at least 287 botanical specimens for various U.S.  herbaria. He did this at no pay for over 20 years enriching our knowledge of our natural resources because he loved plants and learning.[1]

               Among his sheets of dried botanical plants carefully preserved are multiple collections of P. perfoliata, mile-a-minute. And here is the stunning surprise for those who think they know about this invasive plant: The literature mentions Moul, 1946, and then Hinkman and Hinkman,1979, and from there off to the races with Riefner and Windler, 1979. But the quiet carpenter had found this species in 1959 at the "border of Gunpowder Falls N[orth] of Corbett Rd, E[ast] of Corbett".  Only two years earlier another "uneducated" naturalist, Floyd Bartley, had found the invasive mile-a-minute in Owings Mill, Maryland. Both men submitted their specimen to the Smithsonian.[2]

               This however is not the end of the story, for identifying but not notifying is to not complete the circuit of early detection and rapid response (EDRR). Eduards Baltars did not stop for on August 23, 1964 on a collection specimen sheet he typed:

"according to my observation Polygonum perfoliatum is rapidly spreading Maryland. I know 3 locations in Harford County and in Baltimore County it grows along streams and railroads from the Pennsylvanian border south to Coockeysville. N .W. of Phoenix (Baltimore Co.) is 3/4 mile stretch along a railroad where all shrubs are covered with this pest. In some places it grows together with P.scandens."   

               This 1964 specimen was colelcted at the border of Gunpowder Falls, along the railroad southeast of Sparks in Baltimore County Maryland.

               As I try to find funding that would allow me to begin to inventory our disappearing collections, I am reminded of a saying: Nature communicates the past to the future, by storing information in the present.  Eduard Baltars is shouting at us here and now from the past, and we continue to be deaf and dumb; our needs do not seem to include the changes around us; or is it that we do not want to know? My quest to find funding is as quixotic in as Baltars' incessant plant collecting and clear warning.

Edouards Baltars; E Fisher; et al. List of plants collected by Edouards Baltars in Maryland, 1951-1971, not included in Norton & Brown's catalogue of 1946. Cylburn Park Wildflower Preserve and Garden Center. Baltimore, MD.  p.34 

[1] Isaac Rehert. June 19, 1971. Walk With Plant Specialist Presents Variety of Lessons. Baltimore Sun
[2] Botany Collections. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. reference numbers:  Bartley 2313406; Baltars 2313406.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Have you met the Giant African Land Snail, an Invasive Species of the first order?

LISSACHATINA FULICA GIANT AFRICAN SNAIL, GIANT AFRICAN LAND SNAIL Texas Invasives.org http://www.texasinvasives.org/animal_database/detail.php?symbol=24 

              GAS (Giant African Snail, sometimes Giant African Land Snail) , (Lissachatina fulica, formerly Achatina fulica), is one of the most damaging snails in the world because it is known to consume at least 500 different plants including vegetables, fruits, and ornamental crops such as including beans, peas, cucumbers, carrots, onions, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and melons The invasive non indigenous (not native) snail is also the carrier of the rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis.  As a invasive species goes this one rises to the level of charismatic in its own special way. The giant African snail, L. fulica, according to the CABI fact sheet, easily becomes attached to any means of transport or machinery at any developmental stage; is able to go into a state of aestivation in cooler conditions; and  is readily transportable over distances.  

            Florida is by virtue of its hospitable climates is under attack from a wide range of invasive species of which GAS is but one. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services identified GAS in Miami-Dade County on Sep 15, 2011. Able to consume at least 500 different types of plants, the invasive snail "can cause structural damage to plaster and stucco, and can carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans. Anyone who believes they may have seen a Giant African land snail or signs of its presence should call FDACS toll-free at 888-397-1517 to make arrangements to have the snail collected." (USDA NAL Invasive Species Information Center)

            The invasive GAS is a federally regulated species: Snails in the genus Achatina (e.g., Achatina fulica, the Giant African Snail), are specifically prohibited for both interstate movement and importation into the U.S. This snail species group is not only strictly prohibited from entering the U.S. but is safeguarded when discovered. (USDA, APHIS - Regulated Organism and Soil Permits: Snails and Slugs)

            USDA APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) thinks that the giant African land snail, is originally from East Africa. The invasive snail has become established throughout the Indo-Pacific Basin, including the Hawaiian Islands according to APHIS. This mollusk has also been introduced to the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Recently, the snails were detected on Saint Lucia and Barbados. (USDA APHIS GAS Factsheet)

            USDA recently discovered and confiscated illegal invasive giant African land snails from commercial pet stores, schools and one private breeder in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio. Additional finds of the snails have been discovered in Michigan. Amazingly, these snails are being used increasingly for science lessons in schools by teachers who are unaware of the risks associated with the snails and the illegality of possessing them.

The nematode (roundworm) Angiostrongylus cantonensis, the rat lungworm, is the most common cause of human eosinophilic meningitis.  In addition, Angiostrongylus (Parastrongylus) costaricensis is the causal agent of abdominal, or intestinal, angiostrongyliasis. http://www.dpd.cdc.gov/dpdx/html/angiostrongyliasis.htm   

                Giant African snails as mentioned above are carriers of the rat parasite, Angiostrongylus cantonensis. This parasite can be contracted by ingesting improperly cooked snail meat or by handling live snails and transferring snail mucus to the human mucus membranes such as those in the eyes, nose, and mouth. (Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project)

               If you have a Giant African Land Snail, PLEASE DO NOT RELEASE IT OUTSIDE OR GIVE IT AWAY.


DA-2012-12 April 13, 2012

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a Federal Order, effective immediately, which establishes regulated areas in Miami-Dade County in Florida for the giant African snail (GAS).

On September 9, 2011, APHIS confirmed the detection of GAS, Lissachatina fulica, in a residential area of Miami, Florida. Since the initial detection, APHIS has actively worked with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to conduct survey, regulatory, control, and outreach activities. While residential areas have been affected, to date, extensive surveys of nurseries and agricultural productions facilities within the infested areas have been negative for GAS.
The attached Federal Order outlines the safeguarding measures required for the interstate movement of regulated articles from the areas regulated for GAS. The requirements in the State’s interior quarantine for GAS are parallel to this Federal Order.

GAS is one of the most damaging snails in the world because it is known to consume at least 500 different plants including vegetables, fruits, and ornamental crops.

For further information, you may contact Robert Balaam, Eastern Regional Program Manager, at (305) 278- 4872, or Andrea Simao, National Program Manager, at (301) 851-2067.
/s/ Osama El-Lissy for
Rebecca A. Bech
Deputy Administrator
Plant Protection and Quarantine
Attachment (1)
-Federal Order

Friday, April 20, 2012

Norton Brown Herbarium UMd - A Record of our World

John Peter Thompson looking at Persicaria perfoliata (P. perfoliatum), mile-a-minute vine, accession sheets from 1964 at Norton Brown Herbarium, College Park, Maryland. April 2012

               I had the great privilege to visit the Norton Brown herbarium located for the time being at the University of Maryland. The Norton Brown Collection is fortunate to actually have a home for we live in a time when archival collections are being discarded for reasons of space, cost and erroneous assumptions about the state and condition of the infrastructure of knowledge that supports our life styles and civilization. The Norton Brown Herbarium stands as a lonely sentinel against the idea that everything you need to know is on the internet.

               Just what is an herbarium? In one sense it is a library with pages, sheets, of information about the ecosystems and landscapes in which we live, breathe and feed ourselves. Because our actions and our ideas live through time, understanding change means story information about the past in the present so that we can communicate the changes to the future. An herbarium is a collection of pressed, dried plant specimens that are used by researchers to further understanding of the plant world - a world that provides food, fuel, fiber, feed, forage, flowers and forests for our use.

               The Norton-Brown Herbarium (MARY) located at the University of Maryland, College Park, was established by John Bitting Smith Norton (1872-1966) in 1901.[1] The Herbarium consists for the most part of "vascular plants of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay regions of the mid Atlantic states, with additional collections from western North America and elsewhere (most notably Guam and China). Large collections of Polygonaceae subf. Eriogonoideae, Malvaceae and Marcgraviaceae are housed in the Herbarium."[2]

               So now we know what an herbarium is, why should we care that they are left for the most part underfunded and in many cases abandoned. Unlike Norton Brown, many systematic collections are being left to wither away uncared for. Administrators pushed by a taxpaying public that does not know what it is losing are "saving money" at the expense of tomorrow's storehouse of information. The identification of the majority of organisms (insects, plants, fungi and microorganisms) requiring expert skills for correct identification have not been categorized or given formal scientific names. The inability to identify (or obtain identifications of) species is a major component of the taxonomic impediment to management of a sustainable, resilient ecosystems. We don't fund the curation and support needed to maintain and enhance the functions of collections; we pretend there is nothing left to know when for the most part what we do not know about life on earth is larger than what we do know.

               Think about a visit to Norton Brown or to your local herbarium. Write the administrative decision maker and your local politicians and tell them you want them to not only continue to begrudgingly allow the collections to exist, but you want increased support. Work with non profits to find private partners who are willing to invest in the next generation's ability to make informed polity decision about the world of life in which they will live. We must start repairing and enhancing the infrastructure that supports education and policy; we must fund the collections of knowledge built yesterday so that tomorrow a new generation will have the information it needs to make beneficial life choices. 

[1] "Trained at Kansas State University by the famed agrostologist Albert S. Hitchcock, he arrived at the Maryland Agricultural College, then an all male student body, in the summer of 1901 and assumed a position with the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station (known today as BARC) and the just formed Department of Botany. As the taxonomist for the State of Maryland, he replaced Frank Lamson-Scribner who was also employed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture... When Norton retired in 1942, he was succeeded by Russell G. Brown (1905-1996), a plant physiologist. With the arrival in the late 1960s of Drs. William L. Stern and James L. Reveal, the herbarium was revived. In 1973, Dr. C. Rose Broome was added to the staff. With the departure of Stern and Broome in the late 1970s, Dr. Steven R. Hill was hired as curator in 1979, and for five years the herbarium was properly curated and managed with Reveal serving at the Director of the Herbarium. In 1986, Dr. Hollis G. Bedell was appointed acting curator and held the position until late 1986. By 1981, the herbarium had grown to over 35,000 specimens and by 1988 some 60,000 sheets. Today, the herbarium contains some 70,000 sheets

Except for the brief period when Hill was curator, the Norton-Brown Herbarium, so named by the Board of Regents in 1982, received no budgeted funding, although in 1987, the University purchased ten herbarium cases which, coupled with several cases donated to the Herbarium by the Smithsonian Institution, allows the facility today to adequately house its collections. " [accessed April 13, 2012] http://www.plantsystematics.org/reveal/pbio/WWW/mary.html

[2] Ibid.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Invasive Plant Species Taxonomic & Identification: Information, Tools & Resources

This is a partial annotated bibliography of on line resources for systematic information about (invasive) plant species including scientific names, native ranges and other botanical and biological information. These sites to not necessarily identify a particular species as being invasive in any given location per se. The information found here is used in conjunction with legislative, regulatory or other authoritative sources which together create an informed basis for indicating a particular species as being "politically" invasive in your ecosystem or landscape. 

For more complete information about invasive species specifically: National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC): Gateway to invasive species information; covering Federal, State, local, and international sourceshttp://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/

If you have a site that you think should be added please let me know. 

15 April 2012 last update 17:13 EDT US

1.     Brouillet, L., F. Coursol, S.J. Meades, M. Favreau, M. Anions, P. Bélisle & P. Desmet. 2010+. VASCAN, the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada. (http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/search/, 15 April 2012)
Abstract: VASCAN is a comprehensive list of all vascular plants reported in
Canada, Greenland (Denmark) and Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France). VASCAN is literature-based, though recent additions are sometimes specimen-based.

2.     CABI, 2012.   In: Invasive Species Compendium. (http://www.cabi.org/isc/default.aspx?site=144&page=2241, 15 April 2012) CABInternational, Wallingford, UNITED KINGDOM. 
Abstract: An encyclopaedic resource that draws together scientific information on all aspects of invasive species. It comprises detailed datasheets that have been sourced from experts, edited by CABI's scientific staff, peer-reviewed, enhanced with data from specialist organisations, and with images, and maps, and linked to a bibliographic database.

3.     Douce, G.K.; Moorhead, D.J.; Bargeron, C.T.; Reardon, R.C.  2005.  Invasive.org: a Web-based Image Archive and Database System Focused on North American Exotic and Invasive Species. [Online Database].. (http://www.invasive.org/, 15 April 2012).  In: Gottschalk, Kurt W., ed. Proceedings, XV U.S. Department of Agriculture interagency research forum on gypsy moth and other invasive species 2004; 2004 January 13-16; Annapolis, MD. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-332. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 25. USA.
Abstract: BugwoodImages (Invasives.org) has 165,370 images, on 16,796 subjects with 1,889 contributing photographers. BugwoodImages also has a wide audience including growers, managers, researchers, diagnosticians, consultants, regulatory officials, educators, journalist and the general public from all around the world. The site includes links to  EDDMapS - Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System includes distribution maps for over 1000 invasive plants in the United States both at county level and point level; Maps of Occupation and Estimates of Acres Covered by Nonnative Invasive Plants in Southern Forests Regional Maps of occupation and coverage estimates are accessible for 33 recognized nonnative plants invading forests of the 13 southern States using U.S. Forest Service's Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis data; and PestTracker is the public access web site of the National Agricultural Pest Information System (NAPIS), the agricultural pest tracking database of the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS).

4.     Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds.  1993+.  Flora of North America North of Mexico. [Online Database]. (http://floranorthamerica.org/, 15 April 2012)  16+ vols.  New York and Oxford.  Vol. 1, 1993; vol. 2, 1993; vol. 3, 1997; vol. 4, 2003; vol. 5, 2005; vol. 7, 2010; vol. 8, 2009; vol. 19, 2006; vol. 20, 2006; vol. 21, 2006; vol. 22, 2000; vol. 23, 2002; vol. 24, 2007; vol. 25, 2003; vol. 26, 2002; vol. 27, 2007.
Abstract: The Flora of North America is a published and on-line reference source, with information on the names, taxonomic relationships, continent-wide distributions, and morphological characteristics of all plants native and naturalized found in North America north of Mexico.

5.     Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). GBIF Data Portal (http://data.gbif.org/welcome.htm. 15 April 2012). GBIF Secretariat Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, DENMARK
Abstract: Information on species and other groups of plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms, including species occurrence records, as well as classifications and scientific and common names.

6.     IPNI. The International Plant Names Index (2008). [Online Database].   (http://www.ipni.org/,  15 April 2012), In: collaboration among The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, The Harvard University Herbaria, and the Australian National Herbarium.
AbstractL The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) is a database of the names and associated basic bibliographical details of seed plants, ferns and lycophytes. Its goal is to eliminate the need for repeated reference to primary sources for basic bibliographic information about plant names. The data are freely available and are gradually being standardized and checked. IPNI will be a dynamic resource, depending on direct contributions by all members of the botanical community.

7.     ITIS-North America. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (http://www.itis.gov/ 15 April 2012). Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) at U.S. Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 302, Reston, VA  20192. USA..
Abstract: ITIS is  a database with reliable information on species names and their hierarchical classification; reviewed periodically to ensure high quality with valid classifications, revisions, and additions of newly described species. ITIS includes documented taxonomic information of flora and fauna from both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.  
8.     IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. Global Invasive Species Database - GISD. (http://www.issg.org/, 15 April 2012). IUCN SSC ISSG, University of Auckland, School of Biological Sciences, Centre for Biosecurity and Biodiversity, NEW ZEALAND.
Abstract: The Global Invasive Species Database focuses on invasive alien species that threaten native biodiversity and covers all taxonomic groups from micro-organisms to animals and plants in all ecosystems. Species information is either supplied by or reviewed by expert contributors from around the world.

9.     Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2005). Kew Bibliographic Databases. (http://www.kew.org/science-research-data/databases-publications/index.htm, 15 April 2012). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew,  Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB, UNITED KINGDOM 
Abstract: Kew's databases include Kew's collection databases, plant name resources, world checklists, Kew Scientist and other Kew publications.

10.  Tropicos.org. Missouri Botanical Garden. (http://www.tropicos.org/, 15 Apr 2012). © 2012 Missouri Botanical Garden - 4344 Shaw Boulevard - Saint Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.
Abstract: Tropicos (MoBot) has over 1.2 million scientific names and 4.0 million specimen records.

11.  USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. (http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/index.pl (15 April 2012)) National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, 20705, USA.
Abstract: GRIN provides taxonomic data provide the structure and nomenclature for accessions of the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS), part of the National Genetic Resources Program (NGRP) of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Agricultural Research Service (ARS). In GRIN Taxonomy for Plants all families and genera of vascular plants and 50,616 species from throughout the world are represented, especially economic plants and their relatives. Information on scientific and common names, classification, distribution, references, and economic impacts are provided.

12.  USDA, NRCS. 2012. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 15 April 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901, USA.
Abstract: The PLANTS Database provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Meadows Farms - Native Plants versus Invasive Plants (Guest Posting)

Guest posting at: Meadows Farms - Native Plants versus Invasive Plants

Invasive plants, as well as insects, diseases and animals, are organisms that did not evolve in the landscape but were recently introduced either intentionally or accidently. Non-native aggressive colonizing species are altering the natural history and landscapes of our communities and country. These plants, all of which are weeds either of gardens landscapes or natural areas are disrupting the ecology of natural ecosystems, displacing native plant and animal species, and degrading our nation's unique and diverse biological resources. 
            Non-native, aggressive plant species reduce the amount of light, water, nutrients, and space available to native species, alter hydrological patterns, soil chemistry, moisture-holding capacity, and erodibility, and change fire regimes. Some alien exotics can hybridizing with native plant relatives, resulting in modifications to a plant's genetic makeup; others have been found to harbor plant pathogens that can affect both native and non-native plants, including favorite, cherished garden ornamentals.  
Mid-Atlantic native plants, those that existed here before European colonization, are disappearing at an alarming rate due to human activities, such as urban development, and the accompanying introduction of invasive species. Unlike many non-native plants, native plants introduced into landscape plantings are hardy, less susceptible to pests and diseases and unlikely to escape and cause permanent alterations to local ecosystems.. The great variety of plants native to any region give gardeners options that work well in any type of garden design and reflect the uniqueness of the community. Natives are said to require less work, but actually they require different work, much of which is considered less taxing on time and resources.
            Planting natives does not mean giving up on beauty; there is almost always a native alternative to an exotic introduction. For example, Japanese wisteria, with its showy flowers has an American original, Wisteria frutescens.Japanese honeysuckle can be replaced by the native trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens. The pervasive, invasive English ivy has great substitutes in plantain-leaved sedge, Carex plantaginea; marginal woodfern, Dryopteris marginalis; alumroot, Heuchera villosa; Allegheny spurge, Pachysandra procumbens; creeping phlox, Phlox stolonifera; Solomon’s seal, Polygonatum biflorum; and the evergreen Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides.

            A native plant is a species that originates or occurs naturally in a particular region. This means the plants comes ready to work with you to create a dynamic place of beauty and function. Planting natives restores the character of our personal and local landscapes. Gardening with natives requires the same gardening tools and sense as exotic plantings; for any plant to thrive, it must be planted under the proper growing condition for that species (i.e., correct moisture, light, soil). But with these needs addressed, gardening success will be yours.
About the Guest Blogger: John Peter Thompson is a lecturer, researcher and policy consultant working on Horticulture, Agriculture and Bioeconomic issues working in North America and Africa. He is on Twitter @InvasiveNotes; blogging at www.ipetrus.blogspot.com "Invasive Notes"His website is: EcoSystemServices:https://sites.google.com/site/sustainablepolicies/.

Monday, April 02, 2012

USDA Urges Americans to Prevent Invasive Pests, Protect American Agriculture

News Release


Release No. 0112.12
Greg Rosenthal (301) 851-4054
Suzanne Bond (301) 851-4070

 USDA Urges Americans to Prevent Invasive Pests, Protect American Agriculture
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2012—The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that it is dedicating the month of April to sharing information about the threat that invasive plant pests, diseases and harmful weeds pose to America's fruits, vegetables, trees, and other plants—and how the public can help prevent their spread. APHIS works each day to promote U.S. agricultural health and safeguard the nation's agriculture, fishing and forestry industries.
"Invasive pests hit close to home and threaten the things we value," said Rebecca A. Blue, Deputy Under Secretary for USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs. "We need the public's help because these hungry pests can have a huge impact on the items we use in everyday life, from the fabric in our clothing, the food on our table, the lumber used to build our home and the flowers in our garden. During one of the most successful periods in history for U.S. agriculture, it is important that we step-up our efforts to educate Americans about USDA's good work to protect our nation's food, fiber, feed and fuel from invasive pests."
Invasive pests are non-native species that feed on America's agricultural crops, trees and other plants. These "hungry pests" have cost the United States billions of dollars and wreak havoc on the environment. USDA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection-working closely with state agriculture departments and industry-are dedicated to preventing the introduction and spread of invasive pests. The goal is to safeguard agriculture and natural resources from the entry, establishment and spread of animal and plant pests and noxious weeds.
But federal and state agencies can't do it alone. It requires everyone's help to stop the unintended introduction and spread of invasive pests. The number-one action someone can take is to leave hungry pests behind. USDA urges the public to visit www.HungryPests.com to learn more about invasive pests and what they can do to protect American agricultural resources by preventing the spread of these threats. Here are a few actions that people can take today:
  • Buy Local, Burn Local. Invasive pests and larvae can hide and ride long distances in firewood. Don't give them a free ride to start a new infestation-buy firewood where you burn it.
  • Plant Carefully. Buy your plants from a reputable source and avoid using invasive plant species at all costs.
  • Do Not Bring or Mail fresh fruits, vegetables, or plants into your state or another state unless agricultural inspectors have cleared them beforehand.
  • Cooperate with any agricultural quarantine restrictions and allow authorized agricultural workers access to your property for pest or disease surveys.
  • Keep It Clean. Wash outdoor gear and tires between fishing, hunting or camping trips. Clean lawn furniture and other outdoor items when moving from one home to another.
  • Learn To Identify. If you see signs of an invasive pest or disease, write down or take a picture of what you see, and then report it at www.HungryPests.com.
  • Speak Up. Declare all agricultural items to customs officials when returning from international travel. Call USDA to find out what's allowed:
    (301) 851-2046 for questions about plants
    (301) 851-3300 for questions about animals
At www.HungryPests.com, a website available in both English and Spanish, visitors can access the interactive Pest Tracker to see what pests are threatening in a selected state, and to learn how to report suspected invasive pests. The public can also engage on the invasive pests issue via Facebook and Twitter. HungryPests.com is optimized for mobile devices. Public service announcements in both English and Spanish will air on television and radio throughout April and at peak times for domestic travel this summer. APHIS has also been actively collaborating with a number of state partners who will conduct targeted stakeholder engagement on invasive pest issues with state-specific outreach materials.
Added Blue: "The USDA and its partners are fighting invasive pests on three fronts: abroad, at the border, and across the homeland. We're also developing new tools, improving our systems, and working hard to educate the public on how they can join the fight and help stop the spread of invasive pests."
There has been success in the fight against invasive pests. The Asian longhorned beetle, detected in Illinois in 1998, was declared eradicated from Illinois in 2008 with the help of local, state and federal partners and Illinois residents. The beetle was also declared eradicated from Hudson County, NJ; and Islip, NY. Extensive efforts by USDA and its partners in California reduced European grapevine moth populations in 2011 by 99.9 percent. That pest was first detected in California in 2009.
With Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, APHIS works tirelessly to create and sustain opportunities for America's farmers, ranchers and producers. Each day, APHIS promotes U.S. agricultural health, regulates genetically engineered organisms, administers the Animal Welfare Act, and carries out wildlife damage management activities, all to safeguard the nation's agriculture, fishing and forestry industries. In the event that a pest or disease of concern is detected, APHIS implements emergency protocols and partners with affected states and other countries to quickly manage or eradicate the outbreak. To promote the health of U.S. agriculture in the international trade arena, APHIS develops and advances science-based standards with trading partners to ensure America's agricultural exports, valued at more than $137 billion annually, are protected from unjustified restrictions.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).