Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Help USDA Stop Invaders that Could Devastate U.S. Crops and Forests

Big, creepy, and horned, the coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB) loves to feed on—and kill—coconut and other palms, banana plants, and more.  This invasive species, detected in Hawaii in December 2013, makes the perfect poster child for USDA’s Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month—a child only its mother could love.
How did it get here? And how can we prevent the spread of damaging, invasive species like this unwanted, oversized beetle?  These are great questions to consider as USDA kicks off Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.  Throughout April, we’re raising public awareness about the threat of invasive species and informing people how to prevent their spread—so we’ll face fewer surprises like the CRB.
We haven’t determined exactly how this beetle snuck into Hawaii, but we have some good ideas.  It probably hitchhiked on containers, or with plants and plant material moving in cargo or passenger baggage.  From there, it could have spread on its own, or it could have kept on hitchhiking, in plants, plant material and debris, mulch, soil, or hidden on pallets.  People can unknowingly spread invasive pests across states, countries, continents, and oceans.
That’s why USDA created its Hungry Pests outreach program, to empower the public with the knowledge of how to Leave Hungry Pests Behind.  Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month is the perfect time to visit HungryPests.com, which has a wealth of visually compelling information on invasive species.  Use the site’s interactive maps to learn which pests are in your state and which ones threaten it.  Meet some destructive invaders, such as the giant African snailAsian longhorned beetle, and citrus greening disease.  Most importantly, learn the Seven Ways to Leave Hungry Pests Behind so you don’t accidentally spread destructive pests like the CRB.
The stakes are extremely high.  Each year, invasive pests cost our economy billions of dollars by damaging crops, killing trees, requiring costly response efforts, and closing foreign markets to U.S. products from infested areas.  USDA and its partners work very hard to keep invasive pests out of the country and combat those that sneak in, but we can’t do it alone—we need your help.  So this month, be on the lookout for videos, articles and social media buzz on invasive species and how to stop their spread.  Start by visiting HungryPests.com, and join the conversation on the Hungry Pests Facebook Page.
In the meantime, in Hawaii, USDA and state officials are hanging traps to determine the size of the CRB-infested area, removing mulch piles that CRBs use as breeding sites, and informing the public how to spot and report the CRB.  If only someone had left that Hungry Pest behind.
- See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/04/03/help-usda-stop-invaders-that-could-devastate-u-s-crops-and-forests/#sthash.e5EgatgX.dpuf 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2014—The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today proclaimed April as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.  Each year during April, USDA amplifies its public outreach about the risks that invasive plant pests, diseases and harmful weeds pose to America's crops and forests—and how the public can prevent their spread.  These non-native, destructive species can seriously harm the economy, environment, or even human health.
“Invasive species threaten the health and profitability of U.S. agriculture and forestry, and the many jobs these sectors support,” said Kevin Shea, Administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  “To protect that crucial value, USDA and its partners work hard every day to keep invasive pests and diseases out of the United States and to control those that may slip in.  This April, we’re asking all Americans to be our partners in this critical work.”
Invasive plant pests and diseases can jeopardize entire industries such as U.S. citrus or hardwood timber.  For just one disease— huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening), in one state, Florida—the losses are alarming: more than $4.5 billion in lost citrus production from the 2006/07 to 2010/11 production seasons.  One invasive pest, the emerald ash borer beetle, has destroyed tens of millions of American ash trees in our forests and communities.  Scientists have estimated the cost of all invasive species to all economic sectors to be approximately $120 billion yearly.
With stakes this high, public awareness and action become key elements in protecting America’s agricultural and natural resources.  APHIS created its Hungry Pests public outreach program to empower Americans with the knowledge they need to leave these “hungry pests” behind.  For instance, invasive pests can hitchhike in and on the things we move and pack, such as firewood, plants, fruits and vegetables, outdoor furniture and agricultural products ordered online.
So this April, APHIS is asking Americans to visit HungryPests.com to learn what invasive plant pests and diseases are in their state or threaten it.  Get information about damaging pests that USDA and its partners are combatting right now, especially tree-killing pests that are beginning to emerge this spring and into the summer.  Be on the lookout for the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle, which starve trees to death by boring into them and eating their insides.  Keep an eye out for the gypsy moth, whose hungry caterpillars can strip trees and bushes bare.  Not all tree threats are insects; sudden oak death disease, caused by a fungus-like organism, can kill many types of trees as well as many landscape plants, such as camellias and rhododendrons.
Most importantly, learn the “Seven Ways to Leave Hungry Pests Behind,” such as buying firewood where you burn it, or only moving treated firewood if you must bring it with you.  Such simple actions could save a forest or an entire industry from devastation by invasive species.  Individual citizens play a vital role. This month, be on the lookout for videos, articles and social media buzz on invasive species and how to stop their spread.  Start by joining the conversation on the Hungry Pests Facebook Page.
For its part, APHIS has numerous partners at the federal, state, county and local levels, and at universities and nongovernmental organizations.  Through its many safeguarding activities abroad, on the border and across the country, APHIS helps to ensure a diverse natural ecosystem and an abundant and healthy food supply for all Americans.  Please join us in the effort to protect these vital resources.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

See it, Map it! Ontario Now Has an Invasive Species App!

See it, Map it! Ontario Now Has an Invasive Species App!

Concerned about Asian carp, giant hogweed, or zebra mussels? You can report these species and more online or with your mobile device using EDDMapS Ontario.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), the Invasive Species Centre (ISC) and the University of Georgia Centre for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health are announcing their new EDDMapS Ontario online and mobile App for Android and Apple devices.
EDDMapS Ontario is a fast and easy way to map invasive species without any GIS experience. Users simply take a picture with their mobile device and report from where ever they are. It’s that simple!
“Preventing invasive species from arriving and becoming established in Ontario is critical in our fight against this growing threat,” says the Honourable David Orazietti, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources. “Ontario is proud to be working in partnership with OFAH on the development of the EDDMapS Ontario App. The App will serve as a key prevention tool helping Ontario to detect and track the spread of invasive species and, along with Ontario’s proposed Invasive Species Act, will make Ontario a national leader in invasive species prevention and management.”
The new EDDMapS Ontario App builds on the EDDMapS Ontario web online system that contains more than 17,000 invasive species records from Ontario. Using your mobile device, you can make a report, search data and distribution maps, get email alerts and learn about more than 150 invasive species. The App helps Early Detection and Rapid Response efforts, maximizing the effectiveness and accessibility of invasive species observations with a network of expert verifiers.
“The EDDMapS App is an excellent innovation that takes cutting-edge technology and makes it accessible to Ontarians who want to play a role in preventing the arrival and spread of invasive species,” says Dilhari Fernando, Invasive Species Centre Executive Director. “Invasive species, if they arrive and take hold, can irreversibly alter our landscapes and waterways. EDDMapS will enable citizens to contribute to protecting Ontario’s forests, natural lands, lakes and rivers from the serious economic, environmental and social costs of invaders.” 
“Preventing the introduction of invasive species into Ontario woods and waters is everyone’s responsibility,” says OFAH Executive Director Angelo Lombardo. “EDDMapS Ontario is another tool in our efforts to prevent invasive species introductions. We certainly hope that you’ll join us in this fight to protect this province’s fish and wildlife by signing up online and downloading this App to start tracking invasive species in your area.”
You can start tracking invasive species today by signing up at www.eddmaps.org/Ontario or visiting the Google Play store and Apple iTunes App store. The OFAH and OMNR will be hosting a series of workshops and webinars to promote EDDMapS Ontario. Contact the OFAH/OMNR Invading Species Awareness Program at 1-800-563-7711 or email eddmaps@ofah.org to learn more about the new mapping system.
With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 720 member clubs, the OFAH is the province’s largest nonprofit, fish and wildlife conservation-based organization, and the VOICE of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org

Media Contacts:

Alison Kirkpatrick
Monitoring & Information Management
Specialist/Aquatic Invasive Species
Outreach Liaison
(705) 748-6324 ext. 234

Matt Smith
Invading Species Awareness Program Coordinator
(705) 748-6324 ext. 247

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

UGA Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health Hosts Chinese Delegation

UGA Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health Hosts Chinese Delegation

By Clint Thompson, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

When we think of invasive species we usually think of insects, plants and animals that have been shipped to Georgia from another part of the world, but it’s a two-way street. Georgia’s native plants and insects can be just as devastating overseas if they take root in a foreign ecosystem.

Last month, the UGA Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health in Tifton hosted a delegation of Chinese agricultural and forestry scientists who were hoping to exchange strategies on how to stop the spread of invasive species in both the U.S. and in China.

Both areas of the world have to deal with invasive species, although, they come from different sources, said Dave Moorhead, co-director for the center.

“It’s a two-way street, and we hope we can get some cooperation from some of these contacts in China,” Moorhead said. “We have some things that are native over there that are invasive here and vice versa.”

In China, they are concerned about invasive species contained in exports from the U.S. ... They talked to us about pine wood nematode in U.S. log exports from Georgia. That’s a big problem for them,” he said.

In south Georgia, Chinese native species such as tallow trees and Chinese privet, which do not have native insects in Georgia to control their growth, have become major problems.

“They were moved here from other parts of the world as ornamentals and they overwhelm our native habitats,” Moorhead added.

Moorhead and UGA entomologist Keith Douce hosted the Chinese visitors’ tour of Tifton. Douce is co-director of the UGA Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

The group visited the farm of Don Darby in Hahira, Ga., to study several acres infested with Chinese tallow trees. Native to China, the trees have a variety of uses ranging from herbal medicine to biodiesel. In the Southern U.S. the plant is considered invasive - serving no purpose while taking needed nutrients and growing space away from other plants and trees.

“It has no value here,” Moorhead said. “At the Hahira site, one tree was planted more than 30 years ago and it produces so much seed that it spread into adjacent forests and pastures. Tallow trees were initially found near the coast, but are all over the South today. After the Gulf hurricanes several years ago, tallow trees are now found all over East Texas. They can grow just about anywhere and that’s what makes them hard to get rid of.”

The Chinese delegation also heard from Mark McClure, a forest health specialist with the Georgia Forestry Commission, who discussed how tallow trees can be managed. On a tree-by-tree basis, McClure showed the “hack and squirt” method where a small cut is made in the trunk of the tree with a hatchet and a small amount of Arsenal herbicide is applied which kills the tree.

The entire field, which included many types of trees that are indigenous to south Georgia, was sprayed a little more than two years ago using Clearcast herbicide, and only the tallow trees had been impacted, McClure said.

In addition to the tallow tree tour, Moorhead and Douce presented an overview of the UGA Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

The visitors also saw a demonstration of prescribed fire use, learned about herbicide treatments for various species at the Brumby-Tift Tree Farm, toured the International Forest Company’s Containerized Forest Seedling Nursery in Moultrie and toured the Pennhatchee Watershed Project in Dooly County to see the environmental and agricultural problems caused by feral hog populations.

Birders: Report Forest Pests During the Great Backyard Bird Count

Birders: Report Forest Pests During the Great Backyard Bird Count