REPORT A PEST

Press Release

When Enjoying the Outdoors, Don't Spread Invasive 'Hungry Pests'

USDA Has Six Easy-to-Follow Tips for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Washington, D.C. (June 17, 2016)

Now that summer's here, increased outdoor activity comes with a greater risk of spreading 19 invasive species called Hungry Pests. USDA-APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) has six simple tips for outdoor enthusiasts to follow this summer, which will help keep these destructive pests from spreading.

"We realize people don't intentionally spread Hungry Pests," said Suzanne Bond, assistant director, Public Affairs, USDA-APHIS. "But unfortunately, it's possible to accidentally spread these non-native plant diseases, insects and other pests in the things people move and pack. These pests devastate trees and plants that beautify our parks and forests, as well as damage crops. Not only are ecosystems disrupted, but the cost to our nation from invasive pests is great – about $120 billion each year. Fortunately, it's not hard to help prevent their spread."

Outdoor enthusiasts can help protect the environment by following a few simple tips:

  • For those living in the northeast quadrant of our country, look for insect egg masses that are frequently attached to outdoor items, such as furniture you bring on your camping trip. Even items stored in your garage could hide them. They could be the destructive gypsy moth, which eats more than 300 species of trees and shrubs. Carefully remove and immerse gypsy moth egg masses in soapy water. And report findings to federal or state agricultural officials, since early detection is key to controlling these pests.
  • Before leaving for and returning from a camping trip out of your local area, remove any dirt, which may carry insects and their eggs, from cars and recreational vehicles (RVs) to help prevent transporting invasive pests. Be especially attentive to clean debris from tires and wheel wells. Also, clean tires on mountain or other bikes you may use.
  • Likewise, clean dirt from shoes, boots, backpacks and other gear before leaving your local area to hike or enjoy time in nature.
  • Although it may be tempting, don't bring back flowers, plants, leaves or other natural souvenirs discovered in the wild, as they could have invasive pests attached to them. Leave nature in nature.
  • Planning to enjoy an outdoor campfire? Don't move firewood. This is the easiest way to spread invasive species, such as the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer, which can be hidden inside.
  • Buy firewood where you plan to burn it. Only use wood that already has been responsibly harvested near the place you plan to burn it. Or buy and use wood that has been heat-treated or certified as safe to use. Many national and regional parks no longer allow people to bring in firewood from the outside. By doing so, not only could you face a hefty fine, but you could bring in pests that destroy the beautiful wild spaces you love.

To learn about other ways to protect outdoor spaces from invasive pests, visit www.HungryPests.com 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.

About USDA-APHIS

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 www.aphis.usda.gov.