Prevent the Spread of Invasive Pests During Gardening Week | News, Sports, Jobs

The summer weather has finally arrived and many Michigan residents are stocking up on new plants for their garden or landscape. As people head to their local greenhouse or nursery, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) asks the public to be on the lookout for invasive plants, pests and diseases.

When selecting plants and flowers, homeowners and gardeners should keep in mind the impact these plants may have on other plants grown around their landscape or garden. Invasive and non-native plants have few or no natural predators in their non-native environments and can spread rapidly, disrupting ecosystems by pushing out native species and reducing biological diversity.

Invasive plants aren’t the only problem. Many plants and flowers, including those native to Michigan, can be hosts to invasive plant pests and diseases. These invasive species can hitch a ride on plants and be carried into homeowners’ yards, then quickly spread around the surrounding area. Warmer weather can amplify their impact, increasing the level of plant pest infestations and disease infections, allowing pests to produce more generations each year, and expanding suitable habitat for plant pests.

“People can unintentionally move parasites around the state,” said Robin Rosenbaum, manager of the plant health section of MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. “Many of the pests we are most concerned about can hide in or on untreated firewood, soil, seeds and plants. Some pests such as the spotted lanternfly can lay eggs on vehicles in an infested area and then be transported to Michigan.

To help control the spread of invasive pests and diseases, MDARD has implemented several plant pest quarantines. These department-issued legal documents restrict the movement of specific plant material in, into, or out of the state of Michigan. The United States Department of Agriculture and other state quarantines help control the movement of invasive species such as gypsy moth (formerly known as gypsy moth), Asian longhorned beetle, and others. MDARD plant health inspectors work throughout the summer months to inspect plant material and ensure compliance with state and federal quarantines.

“Quarantines are a useful tool for controlling the spread of invasive species, but we need the public’s help to stop the spread of the pests we care about most,” Rosenbaum added.

Michiganders interested in purchasing plant material online should also be aware that many websites and social media groups lack adequate information about state and federal quarantines and pest movement concerns. Buying locally from an MDARD-approved nursery is a great way to minimize risk because these businesses are inspected annually and are familiar with specific Michigan laws, regulations, and pests.

Here are some simple steps you should take to help limit the spread of invasive species:

– Visit the Michigan Invasive Species website to learn how to spot invasive pests that threaten plants and agriculture in your area.

– Do not move untreated firewood. Buy certified, heat-treated firewood or buy wood where you burn it and burn it all before you get home to avoid unintentionally spreading species that hide inside untreated firewood.

– When returning from international travel, declare food, plants, and other agricultural items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure these items are free of pests.

– Make sure the seeds and plants you buy online are not invasive to your area.

– Report signs of invasive plant pests and diseases to MDARD through the Michigan Invasive Species website or 800-292-3939.

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