Protect Spring Gardens Now from Invasive ‘Hungry Pests’

USDA Offers Six, Easy-to-Follow Tips to Help Save Gardens and

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#gardening–With spring’s arrival, now is the time to think about ways to protect
gardens and landscapes from dangerous invasive pests. To recognize April
as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, USDA-APHIS (Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service) encourages the public to follow six
simple tips to protect their properties from 19 particularly destructive
invasive species known as Hungry
, which are primarily spread by humans in the things they move
and pack.

“Gardeners know how to grow and nurture beautiful landscapes and
bountiful gardens, and they more than anyone can appreciate the need to
protect America’s agricultural and natural resources,” said Julie
Spaulding, acting director of pest management, Plant Protection and
Quarantine, USDA-APHIS. “Unfortunately, invasive species are a real
threat, costing our nation $120 billion each year. Because they have few
natural enemies here, they can spread without resistance, damaging our
crops, trees and plants. Gardeners should be especially careful to
protect against invasive species.”

Homeowners can help protect America’s gardens, farms, forests and
landscapes by following a few simple tips:

  • Start by only buying plants and seeds from reputable sources,
    such as established nurseries or online businesses. Ask where they buy
    their plants and if they comply with federal quarantine restrictions.
    Fly-by-night dealers, whether in your neighborhood or online, may not
    be doing what is required to keep plants free of invasive pests.
  • Call your local USDA office to find out how to safely dispose of
    trees, branches or other yard debris.
    Moving such materials to
    areas outside your property could spread invasive pests. Make sure any
    contractors you are working with also follow these procedures. For a
    list of local USDA offices, visit
  • Don’t move citrus plants or items made with fresh citrus, such
    as floral arrangements or kaffir lime leaves. That’s how citrus
    greening – a citrus disease that is killing America’s orange groves –
    has spread.
  • You may live in an area under quarantine for an invasive pest. Call
    your local USDA office to find out before moving homegrown produce,
    plants and plant parts
    . And to be safe, don’t bring back plants
    from other areas, including when traveling abroad. That’s how the
    Mexican fruit fly – which threatens at least 50 types of fruits and
    vegetables – entered the United States.
  • Look for round and D-shaped holes in trees, especially in the
    late spring and summer months. They could be the exit holes of Asian
    longhorned beetles or emerald ash borers. Also look for yellow, thin
    or wilted leaves, shoots growing from roots or tree trunks,
    sawdust-like material on the ground or in branches, and unusual
    woodpecker activity. If you see something that looks suspicious, be
    safe and report it using the “Report a Pest” button found on the home
    page of the Hungry Pests website.
  • For those living in the northeast quadrant of the country, inspect
    lawn furniture, fences, walls and other outdoor items, and remove
    and immerse gypsy moth egg masses in soapy water.
    This is
    especially important before moving outdoor items to areas outside your
    property. Gypsy moths eat more than 300 species of trees and shrubs,
    including fruit trees. Early detection is key to controlling them, so
    report findings to federal or state agricultural officials.

To learn about other ways to protect your property from invasive pests,
or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. The website includes
photos and descriptions of the 19 Hungry Pests, an online tracker of
federal quarantines by state, and phone numbers to report signs of
invasive pests.


The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is a multifaceted federal
agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting
U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically engineered organisms,
administering the Animal Welfare Act and carrying out wildlife damage
management activities. These efforts support the overall mission of
USDA, which is to protect and promote food, agriculture, natural
resources and related issues. To learn more about APHIS, visit


Renee Tilton, 410-626-0805
Bond, 301-851-4070