Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Invasive Pest?

An invasive pest is an organism that is introduced into an area beyond its natural range and becomes a pest in the new environment. They are also referred to as alien, non-native or introduced pests. An invasive pest does not occur naturally in a specific area and therefore may not have any natural enemies. The introduction of invasive pests may cause economic (including agricultural) or environmental harm, or harm to human health.

How Do Invasive Pests Spread? 

There are a few ways pests enter the U.S. and cross state lines:

  • On commercial shipments of plants, food and other materials
  • By "hitch-hiking" on vehicles, fruits, plants, seeds or animals when travelers enter the U.S. or any state
  • When travelers bring prohibited fruits, plants, seeds, animals and other items back from other states or countries

What Kind of Damage Can Invasive Pests Cause?

Invasive pests are considered the second greatest threat to biological diversity after habitat loss. If allowed to enter and become established in a state, these pests and the diseases brought with them increase food and fiber costs, increase pesticide use and cause damage to native species of plants and animals, forests, watersheds, lakes, rivers and water delivery systems.

Who Monitors and Works to Control Invasive Pests?

State and Federal authorities, including each state's agriculture department, United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, work together to monitor and control invasive pests.

What are the Top Invasive Pest Threats in the U.S.?

The invasive pests that are currently being monitored as the most damaging in U.S. are the imported fire ant, the khapra beetle, the Mediterranean fruit fly; the Asian citrus psyllid; citrus greening disease or Huanglongbing; the European grapevine mothsudden oak death; the Mexican fruit fly; the Oriental fruit fly; the giant African snail; the False codling moth; the light brown apple moth; both European and Asian gypsy moths; the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle.

I Don't Work in Agriculture – Why Should I Care about Invasive Pests?

The risks from invasive pests stretch well beyond agriculture and affect everyone. When exotic insect pests are excluded from the local ecosystems, we all benefit in the form of lower food costs, increased recreational value of public and private lands and protection of urban and rural landscapes.

What Can I Do to Stop Invasive Pests from Entering the U.S. or Crossing State Lines?

If you are traveling to another state or country, one of the most important things you can do is not bring back any fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, plants or other natural items unless they have been cleared by the appropriate officials. Cooperating with customs officials and others who are watching for invasive pests is the best way to help keep the unwanted pests from entering the United States or crossing state lines in the first place.