Are you helping invasive pests spread in Idaho or around our country? You may have heard that invasive plant pests and diseases are primarily introduced through commercial international trade — that’s true. But once they are here, these destructive pests don’t move far on their own; they are mostly spread by us. Through our everyday actions — when we take firewood from home to our campsite; mail a gift of homegrown fruits or plants; or order plants, seeds or fruit online — we can contribute to the unintentional spread of any number of destructive plant pests. So when people wonder if their individual actions really matter — the answer is yes.
Damaging pests like the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, Japanese beetle and gypsy moths threaten the Treasure Valley and the entire state of Idaho. These pests can hide in firewood, boats, sod and nursery stock shipments, or even on wooden pallets and household goods moved from quarantine areas. Fortunately, these pests are not in our state or have been contained to small areas, and we need your help to keep it that way. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn more about these destructive plant pests, take responsibility for your actions and help us stop the spread of invasive species.
It only takes one person to move something they shouldn’t. For instance, we know the emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle didn’t fly to Colorado on its own, it hitchhiked there. And now all of their urban, suburban and rural ash trees are at risk of attack by this devastating pest. And the risks from EAB stretch well beyond Colorado borders; today EAB infestations are in 30 states.
Invasive plant pests and diseases are a threat in almost every state. If we allow them to enter and become established, these pests could devastate our neighborhoods and public green spaces, and cause damage to native species of plants, forests, watersheds, lakes, rivers and water delivery systems. As it stands today, damage from invasive plant pests costs our nation about $40 billion annually.
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To protect our state, we are asking Idahoans to join us in the battle against invasive plant pests and diseases. April was Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month — but we have to be vigilant all the time to help stop the spread of these harmful pests.
Brian Marschman, of Boise, is USDA APHIS Plant Protection & Quarantine Plant Health Director-Idaho.