Prevention is Key with Invasive Pests
What are invasive species and why should we care?
Invasive species are plants, animals, or other organisms that are capable of causing severe damage in areas where they are not normally found. Not all non-native species are bad, but those that become invasive can kill forest trees, out-compete native species for resources, cost farmers and society billions in management and lost revenue, and can even harm human health.
How do invasive species spread?
Invasive species are introduced by a variety of modes, both intentionally and unintentionally. Invasive species can be blown by the wind or transported by plants, soil, birds, and animals. Long distance spread, however, is most often the result of human assistance. Invasive species can arrive by boat, airplane, automobile, and packages we mail.
What can you do to prevent the spread and establishment of invasive species?
The velvet longhorned beetle (Trichoferus campestris) has been detected in Utah in parks, nurseries, and orchards, starting in 2009. It has yet to be determined if this tree-boring invasive attacks and reproduces in healthy trees in Utah.
There are many things you can do to help stop the spread of unwanted invaders. The first step is to learn which invasive species occur in your local area. The primary goals of the Utah Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) program are the early detection of invasive pests and to raise public awareness about these pests.
If you visit the Utah CAPS program website, you will be able to read about the invasive pests that have been detected in Utah as well as those not currently found in Utah but considered to be our biggest threats. If found, these pests could potentially devastate local agriculture and natural resources.
Each year, the Utah CAPS team sets up traps to detect invasive pests in Utah and determine where they are most active. However, sometimes invasive pests are found by concerned community members who simply find something unusual in their homes, gardens, or landscapes. To support our efforts, we encourage you to become familiar with these pests and report their occurrences. Please contact Lori Spears, USU CAPS Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions or for more information.
Ways you can prevent invasive species are:
1. Buy local: Avoid carrying or sending fruit, seeds, live plants, soil, or animals outside their area of origin and don’t transport firewood. Moving these things can increase the spread of invasive species.
2. Plant carefully: Avoid using invasive, non-native plants and seed mixtures labeled “wildflowers.”
3. Keep it clean: When you travel, make sure to spend some time inspecting your belongings and remove any plants, soil, and insects from your clothing, boots, gear, pets, and vehicles.
To learn more about invasive species and how to prevent their spread, please visit the following websites:
-Lori Spears, USU CAPS Coordinator
Pejchar, L., and H.A. Mooney. 2009. Invasive species, ecosystem services and human well-being. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24:497-504.
Pimental, D., R. Zuniga, and D. Morrison. 2005. Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the United States. Ecological Economics 52:273-288.
The Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey is a federal program, administered jointly by USDA-APHIS-PPQ and each state, whose purpose is early detection of invasive species that could threaten U.S. agriculture. In Utah, the program is co-coordinated by Lori Spears (Utah State University) and Clint Burfitt (Utah Department of Agriculture and Food).