Monday, November 26, 2012

Regulation of Invasive Plants in Maryland - Comments due by Dec 17th, 2012

Maryland Register
MDA Secretary Hance, with advice from the Invasive Plant Advisory Committee
Comments are due to Carol Holko at MDA by December 17th.  
These regulations outline the risk assessment protocol and the rules concerning plants that are ultimately ranked as Tier 1 or Tier 2 invaders.  
No plants have yet been assessed – this is NOT the plant list, but the regulations that will apply to them when they are assessed.

Issue Date: November 16, 2012
Volume 39 • Issue 23 • Pages 1475-1566

15.06.04 Regulation of Invasive Plants
Authority: Agriculture Article, §9.5-301, Annotated Code of Maryland
Notice of Proposed Action
The Secretary of Agriculture proposes to adopt new Regulations .01—.05 under a new chapter, COMAR 15.06.04 Regulation of Invasive Plants.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of this action is to establish a risk assessment protocol in order to rank invasive plants and to establish administrative procedures and orders.
Comparison to Federal Standards
There is no corresponding federal standard to this proposed action.
Estimate of Economic Impact
The proposed action has no economic impact.
Economic Impact on Small Businesses
The proposed action has minimal or no economic impact on small businesses.
Impact on Individuals with Disabilities
The proposed action has no impact on individuals with disabilities.
Opportunity for Public Comment
Comments may be sent to Carol Holko, Assistant Secretary, Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401, or call 410-841-5734, or email to, or fax to 410-841-5870. Comments will be accepted through December 17, 2012. A public hearing has not been scheduled.

Editor’s Note on Incorporation by Reference
   Pursuant to State Government Article, §7-207, Annotated Code of Maryland, the Development and Validation of a Weed Screening Tool for the United States, Biological Invasions (2012) 14:273—294 has been declared a document generally available to the public and appropriate for incorporation by reference. For this reason, it will not be printed in the Maryland Register or the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). Copies of this document are filed in special public depositories located throughout the State. A list of these depositories was published in 39:2 Md. R. 104 (January 27, 2012), and is available online at The document may also be inspected at the office of the Division of State Documents, 16 Francis Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401.

.01 Scope.
These regulations establish a science-based risk assessment protocol to determine the harm and impact caused by invasive plants, including an approval procedure for activities involving invasive plant species that cause or are likely to cause severe harm and administrative orders that the Secretary may issue to enforce these regulations.
.02 Definitions.
A. In this chapter, the following terms have the meanings indicated.
B. Terms Defined.
(1) “Invasive plant” means a terrestrial plant species that:
(a) Did not evolve in the State; and
(b) If introduced within the State, will cause or is likely to cause, as determined by the Secretary:
(i) Economic harm;
(ii) Ecological harm;
(iii) Environmental harm; or
(iv) Harm to human health.
(2) “Tier 1 invasive plant” includes invasive plant species that cause or are likely to cause severe harm within the State.
(3) “Tier 2 invasive plant” includes invasive plant species that cause or are likely to cause substantial negative impact within the State.
.03 Risk Assessment Protocol for Invasive Plants.
The Secretary shall determine whether an invasive plant qualifies as a Tier 1 or a Tier 2 plant based on the following protocols:
A. Plant risk assessment protocol established by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection Quarantine pursuant to A. Koop, L. Fowler, L. Newton, and B. Caton, Development and Validation of a Weed Screening Tool for the United States, Biological Invasions (2012) 14:273—294, which is incorporated by reference; and
B. Factors relating to special Maryland circumstances (e.g. potential distribution, current distribution, threatened and endangered species or ecosystems, feasibility of control, and special agricultural conditions).
.04 Tier 1 Approval Process.
A. Unless a person receives prior approval from the Secretary as provided by this regulation, a person may not propagate, import, transfer, sell, purchase, transport, or introduce any living part of a Tier 1 invasive plant in the State.
B. A written request for approval shall be submitted to the Secretary with the following information:
(1) Name;
(2) Business, nursery or plant dealer license # if applicable;
(3) Phone;
(4) Email;
(5) Tier 1 plant for which approval is being requested, full botanical name;
(6) Specific location of the Tier 1 plant;
(7) Proposed activity;
(8) Method of safeguarding from propagule dispersal;
(9) Time-frame of the proposed activity; and
(10) Any other information required by the Secretary.
C. The Secretary may not approve any person’s request for approval for any activity involving a Tier 1 invasive plant unless the activity is for any of the following purposes:
(1) Disposing of the invasive plant;
(2) Controlling the invasive plant;
(3) Using the invasive plant for research or educational purposes; or
(4) Exporting the invasive plant out of the State.
D. Upon notice and an opportunity to be heard the Secretary may:
(1) Withdraw or revoke any approval for any person who violates any condition of any approval by the Secretary; or
(2) Revise any approval as provided in the permit, based on new information obtained after an approval is granted.
.05 Administrative Orders By The Secretary.
A. The Secretary may issue administrative orders to enforce the provisions of this chapter and Agriculture Article, Title 9.5 (Invasive Plants Prevention and Control), Annotated Code of Maryland, as follows:
(1) Order any person to cease propagating, importing, transferring, selling, purchasing, transporting, or introducing any living part of a Tier 1 invasive plant in the State;
(2) Order the condemnation and seizure of any Tier 1 plant owned or possessed by any person who violates § 9.5-302(a)(2) of the Agriculture Article, Annotated Code of Maryland;
(3) Order the marking or tagging in a conspicuous manner of a Tier 1 plant owned or controlled by any person subject to an order of the Secretary under this chapter;
(4) Order any person, on notice from the Secretary, to dispose of any Tier 1 plant that is held in violation of this Chapter or in violation of Agriculture Article, Title 9.5, Annotated Code of Maryland, in a manner that renders all plant parts nonviable, or allow a person to return a Tier 1 plant to the out-of-State supplier of the plant, as approved in advance by the Secretary;
(5) Order a person to make any Tier 1 plant available to the Secretary for destruction if the person has failed to dispose of the Tier 1 plant as ordered by the Secretary and require that person to pay any destruction cost;
(6) Order any person to cease selling or offering for sale at any retail outlet a Tier 2 invasive plant until the retail outlet posts in a conspicuous manner in proximity to all Tier 2 plant displays a sign identifying the plants as Tier 2 plants;
(7) Order any person to cease providing landscaping services to plant or supply for planting a Tier 2 invasive plant, if the person fails to provide the customer with a list of Tier 2 invasive plants; or
(8) Order a person to take any action that the Secretary considers necessary to enforce the requirements of Agriculture Article, Title 9.5, Annotated Code of Maryland.
B. A person who violates any order issued by the Secretary is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each violation.
Secretary of Agriculture

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mexican fruit fly apprehended in Maryland

Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens (Loew).
Image by by Hartmut Wisch Iowa State University: BugGuide

          In what was an inevitable outcome of massive international trade, a male Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens (Loew) was intercepted in Maryland for the first time at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport in September.[1] The United States was once insulated from novel species accidental introductions by cast oceans and particular predictable long term weather patterns. Unless intentionally introduced and cultivated until established, species did not simply wander in. Today, the size and scope of international trade provides the perfect pathway for repeated unintentional introductions of non-indigenous species a few of which get their green cards quickly and begin to proliferate causing harm to commerce and to ecosystems. We call these few invasive species.

          The skill and proficiency of USDA APHIS and ARS scientists and professionals collaborating with  U.S. Customs and Border Protection work to prevent the introduction of unwanted, unknown and potentially harmful organisms. Finding one fruit fly at one airport should give us pause to consider the likelihood that a Mrs. Anastrepha managed to escape detection.
The Mexican fruit fly is at home in Mexico and much of Central America as far south as Costa Rica. It has migrated into the cultivated citrus sections of the west coast of Mexico and northward toward Texas, Arizona and California.  

          In January 2012, the USDA-APHIS announced that the Mexican fruit fly was eradicated from the last county in Texas in which it had been present.[2] However only three months later on March 9, 2012, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) established a Mexican fruit fly (Mexfly) quarantine area in the San Benito area of Cameron County, Texas applying restrictions on the interstate movement of regulated articles from this area in order to prevent the spread of Mexfly to non-infested areas of the United States.[3]

          The really big question is why you care. Out visitor reduces the amount of all varieties of citrus that you can buy, lemons and sour limes excepted. The Mexican fruit fly loves grapefruit most of all but is comfortable competing with you for oranges, white sapote and mango. Closer to home in Maryland are pears, peaches and apples are eagerly sought after by our new acquaintance. And if this were not enough, A. ludens has been shown, according to the University of Florida's Featured Creatures website, to sample avocado, cherimoya, custard apple, mamey, pomegranate, quince, rose apple, yellow chapote, cacti, figs, bananas, tomatoes, peppers, squash and beans.

          Invasive species do matter, and they do cost. More than a decade ago invasive species were estimated to impact the United States to the tune of 130 billion dollars a year.[4]  Do you think this cost has gone down, or given the reduction in the scope and funding of the federal government and the increase in global trade, gone down?

[1] USDA APHIS handout to the Maryland Invasive Species Council November 2012.

[2] Featured Creatures provides in-depth profiles of insects, nematodes, arachnids and other organisms. The site is a cooperative venture of the University of Florida's Entomology and Nematology Department and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Plant Industry. [accessed November 23, 2012]

[3] From February 27 to March 7, 2012, seven unmated and one mated adult female Mexflies were detected in grapefruit and orange trees located in a commercial grove in the San Benito area of Cameron County, Texas. APHIS, in cooperation with the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), is responding to the detection. .. The establishment of this quarantine area is posted on the following APHIS website, which contains a description of all the current Federal fruit fly quarantine areas:   [accessed November 23, 2012]

[4] Economic and environmental threats of alien plant, animal, and microbe invasions (2001)
David Pimentel, S. McNair, J. Janecka, J. Wightman, C. Simmonds, C. O’Connell, E. Wong, L. Russel, J. Zern, T. Aquino, T. Tsomondo  [ACCESSED nOVEMBER 23, 2012]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baltimore CBP Intercepts First in Nation Bruchid Beetle

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Wed Nov 21 2012 08:25:10 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

Baltimore CBP Intercepts First in Nation Bruchid Beetle11/02/2012
Baltimore – A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed today that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at the Port of Baltimore seaport made a first in nation pest discovery when they intercepted an insect, Brachytarsus sp., or bruchid beetle, while inspecting a shipment of corn from Argentina on Oct. 26.
Bruchid beetles could pose a significant agriculture threat because their larvae can tunnel into the developing seeds of bean and corn crops. The larvae pupate in the seed and when fully mature the adults hatch and bite through the wall of the seed leaving characteristic circular exit holes.

“CBP agriculture specialists take their job of detecting foreign invasive plants and plant pests very seriously,” said Ricardo Scheller, CBP port director for the Port of Baltimore. “This is another example of our agriculture specialist performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry.”

The beetles were discovered in an eight container 315,898 pound shipment of corn from Argentina. CBP forwarded specimens of the beetle to a USDA- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification. CBP agriculture specialists have subsequently found bruchid beetles in two other containers. All eight containers will be inspected for pest infestation.
CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification to the importer requiring the shipment to be re-exported or destroyed. The importer has yet to make a decision.
Bruchid Beetle intercepted at the Port of Baltimore.
CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA’s, APHIS, PPQ to protect our nation’s agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign plant pests and animal diseases.

For more on the USDA, APHIS, PPQ program, please visit the USDA Web site. USDA )
CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day, they inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States and seize 4,291 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 470 insect pests.

To learn more about CBP agriculture specialists, please visit the CBP Web site. ( Agriculture Specialist )
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

see also:
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 Press Officers
 News Releases
 Agriculture Specialist

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

HEAR CLOSING - a message from Dr. David Duffy (PCSU/UH)

November 6 2012
HEAR CLOSING - a message from Dr. David Duffy (PCSU/UH)

A message from Dr. David Duffy, Pacific Cooperative Studies
Unit/University of Hawaii:

    "Because of a lack of funds, the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR) ( may close as soon as December 15, although there may be enough funds to extend it until February 15. This will mean several things. The web site will be placed on a new server although it is not clear who will pay for the server or for transitioning the site. HEAR data will not be updated. The Pacific Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)
site (see will also become frozen, as will numerous books, reports and papers. As software evolves we will likely lose the ability to access the data. The various list servers will need new owners, otherwise moderated lists will cease to function altogether, while other lists will not be able to add or delete members. The Starr photo collection will remain accessible, but only through a third party site that will charge for access.
    I should point out that we have already lost the original home of the Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) website, although it has found temporary refuge. Together with HEAR, this site represents the corporate memory both here in Hawaii and across the Pacific of efforts to sustain our natural ecosystems and agriculture against problems caused by
species alien to the islands. HEAR also serves as the glue that holds the community together, providing information and facilitating communication. I just hope hindsight is kind to this decision."

               Invasive species are all around us, but most of us never see them. Except for a small group of dedicated people, who over the years have studied and documented the changes in the landscapes of our world, most of us remain oblivious to the changes that are happening to the environment. To those who watch and know the changes brought about by the introduction of novel species, the spread of invasive species is like a wild fire consuming the habitats that shelter life as we know it.

               Invasive species destroy our crops and reduce the food supply that 7 billion people need. Invasive species foul our waters and cost us resources that most of us do not even know we have. Our expectations allow us to presume that resources provided by the diversity of life will always be available to us. As we allow our physical manmade infrastructure to crumble, the ecological systems that surround and support them are changing fast and costing us more.

               The free access of information that once was found in libraries is growing ever smaller, and in the world of invasive species the little electronic portals of knowledge are blinking out along with their hardcopy brethren because some of us feel there is no role for common access to science and experience. In some ways the loss of information will result in a world that knows nothing of the problems facing us as invasive species reduce the resources once at hand. In a tangled twist, the absence of information is validation to many that there is no problem. Without access to species information and their impact on ecosystems, communities will each have to learn anew the effect and cost that some novel species can have on our daily lives.

               The fisherman will see no problem until the lake loses its many species to an exotic flying carp; the farmer will be oblivious until the stink bug reaches his soy bean fields; the gardener will know nothing until the running bamboo takes out the foundation of the home; the child's parent will be content until the python attacks at dusk; the sick will not realize the impact of the insect bite until the doctor speaks of mosquitoes from a distant land; the homeowner will be amused until he learns the cost of termites from a place far far away.

               Then, and only then, when it is too late, will the costs of ignorance come home to roost.  HEAR and PIER provided information in depth to one and all. Individuals and their communities who bear the cost of invasive species and who are unable to pay individually for research information are the losers. They will pay in damage to their fields, gardens and public lands because we did not have the will to provide knowledge to one and all as a public infrastructure service. James Madison wrote to W.T. Barry in 1822:

"A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."[1]

[1] Kurland & Lerner, eds. 2000. Epilogue: Securing the Republic,  Chapter 18. © 1987 by The University of Chicago. [accessed November 6, 2012]