April 08, 2024

Protect Plants by Looking for Invasive Pests in April

April is Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proclaimed April 2024 as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Whether you’re a gardener or a camper, a bug enthusiast or a student, a traveler or an online shopper, it is important to learn about the danger of invasive plant pests and what you can do to help. 

Invasive pests don’t have many enemies in their new environment, so they multiply fast. These pests compete with native species and cause problems for the environment and farms. 

Nonnative plant pests can hitchhike in untreated firewood, attach themselves to cars, boats, and other outdoor surfaces, or take a ride in the mail. They can travel to new areas on agricultural material such as soil, seeds, homegrown produce and plants.

We need the public’s help to reduce the impact of invasive species. Join us in protecting plants this month! Here are some tips:    

  • Visit the Missouri Department of Agriculture website to learn about quarantines in your area. Familiarize yourself with signs of invasive pest infestation on outdoor gear, wild plants, and your garden.
  • If you find signs of new invasive plant pests and diseases in your area, report them to your local Extension office, the state department of agriculture or your USDA State Plant Health Director’s office.  
  • Don’t move untreated firewood—even if it looks pest-free on the outside. To be safe, buy or source wood locally, or use certified, heat-treated firewood.  
  • When ordering agricultural materials online, contact the seller to determine where the item is shipping from and adhere to import requirements for any agricultural materials coming from overseas. If you don’t know where an agricultural product is coming from, don’t buy it online. U.S. regulations apply to the importer—meaning the person purchasing and importing the product—not the online merchant. Buy the item domestically or learn how to safely and legally import plants and seeds before purchasing them online.   
  • Don’t mail homegrown plants, fruits and vegetables.   
  • Declare all agricultural items, including seeds, soil, and handicrafts to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for inspection when returning from overseas travel. Declaring these items protects local plants from invasive pests, and it’s required by law. 

To share plant health protection messaging in April, join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter and follow #IPPDAM on social media. To learn more about invasive plant pests and diseases in your area and how to stop them, visit HungryPests.com.