New Infestations of Invasive Insects and Diseases Should Put Fall Gardeners on Alert

September 21, 2010

Early detection is critical to stopping the spread of these pests for which native plants have no evolved resistance

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Recent discoveries of the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle, Thousand Cankers Disease, emerald ash borer, light brown apple moth, sweet orange scab, and citrus greening disease should put all gardeners and homeowners on alert this fall for these and other invasive pests. If undetected, they can wreak havoc on yards and gardens, and continue to spread through neighborhoods and into other regions and states, causing widespread destruction to this nation’s forests.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been working to strengthen regulations governing international trade in plants, which can introduce damaging pests, key components of the new regulations have not yet received final approval. Until that time, homeowners can play an important role in detection and reporting of invasive insects and diseases. New non-native plant pest introductions are detected at a rate of one every 12 days, adding to the burden of the approximately 400 tree pests already established in the United States. Once established, these pets begin to spread from region to region if not detected.

Following are infestations of imported insects and diseases discovered during the past few months:

  • On August 23, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the presence of sweet orange scab (Elsinoe- australis) in Texas and Louisiana on homeowners’ trees.
  • On August 5, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture confirmed a state forester’s discovery of Thousand Cankers Disease near Knoxville.
  • Tennessee’s other new pest, the emerald ash borer, was discovered on July 27.
  • In July, a newly discovered Asian longhorned beetle infestation was discovered in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, MA, and in West Boylston, MA.
  • On June 17, APHIS issued an interim rule announcing a plant quarantine in the states of Florida and Georgia, the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, two parishes in Louisiana and two counties in South Carolina due to the presence of citrus greening disease.
  • During the first week of September, parts of Sacramento County in California were added to areas of the state already under quarantine for the light brown apple moth, totaling 19 counties in the state.

“If homeowners notice an insect or plant disease they don’t recognize while gardening this fall, they should first consult Internet resources, a county extension agent, or a local nursery to help them identify it,” says Frank Lowenstein, director of the Conservancy’s Forest Health Program. “If they believe they may have found an invasive pest or pathogen, they should contact their state department of agriculture to alert them to the discovery and gain assistance in confirming its identity.”

The Nature Conservancy, along with nursery industry partners and scientists, launched an educational campaign, Plant Smart, to encourage careful planting and to support stronger regulation of plant imports that result in better protection of America’s trees from harmful foreign species. The recently launched Plant Smart Web site, www.plantsmart.org, is a resource for homeowners who want to help stop the spread of the invasive insects and diseases.

Homeowners who believe they have detected a foreign insect or disease can find their state’s chief plant pest regulator at www.nationalplantboard.org/member/index.html.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit us on the Web at www.nature.org.

The Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases is a group of organizations and individuals that cultivates and catalyzes collaborative action among diverse interests to abate the threat to North American forests from non-native insects and diseases.

SOURCE Plant Smart

Source: newswire

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