What is a plant pest?
Any insect, mite, nematode, bacteria, fungi, virus, snail, or other biological organism that is damaging the plants in your yard, garden, farm or forest. Have you noticed unusual damage or pest activity in your yard or garden? It's possible that you could be the first person to report the occurrence of an exotic species in your county, state, or the U.S.
What is an exotic species?
An exotic species is any biological organism not known to be native to a given geographic region.
Are all exotic species considered invasive?
No. Exotic species are considered invasive only if they significantly change their new crop or ecosystem structure. This change can be either positive or negative. For example, kudzu has a negative impact on its adopted environment. Other introduced species include European honeybees. These are great pollinators and have a positive impact on an environment. Some exotic species are purposely introduced in order to control other exotic species. Exotic species that are purposely introduced to control other species are referred to as biological control agents. These would also have a positive impact on an environment.
How do I identify my pests?
Many books and electronic resources are available to assist you with identification. Your local Cooperative Extension Office is your source for region-specific pest identification resources. Go to the USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) website to locate your local county Cooperative Extension Office. Our website, www.protectingusnow.org will provide pest identification information on targeted species of concern.
The following national sites may also have links to additional resources or useful information:
Why should I have my pest identification confirmed?
Only expert labs can confirm new, exotic pest records. Many pests that are not known in the U.S. or occur in limited distribution may be easily confused with common species. The ability of our U.S. agricultural commodities to trade with other countries could be negatively impacted by a false pest report. As agriculture is a significant component of our national economy, trade implications affect everyone.
Even well-trained professionals, such as county extension agents and agricultural inspectors, must confirm suspect samples with a specialist.
How do I submit a sample?
Questions from the general public regarding pest identification should first be directed to your local cooperative extension service.
Each state also has a University and/or State Department of Agriculture National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) lab. Go to http://www.npdn.org/ and click on your state to connect with your local lab.
Both county extension agents and NPDN labs are familiar with the common pests in their area. Also, NPDN labs routinely practice communications with state and federal (USDA/APHS) regulatory officials in the event that a suspect exotic species of concern is detected.
Who determines if a pest is of regulatory concern?
The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA, APHIS) andyour local State Department of Agriculture.