Six Tips For Keeping Your Gardens Free Of Hungry Pests.
Living on a large fruit and vegetable farm, I know all too well about the threat of hungry pests in our crops and greenhouses. But did you know that as a home gardener, you are on the front line in helping to combat these dangerous “Hungry Pests“? Let me first start off by explaining that Hungry Pests are 19 invasive species identified by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. These pests wreak havoc on America’s crops, trees and plants. They arrive in the United States by way of commercial trade. But once here, it is us as consumers that are the biggest reason these pests spread by the things we pack and the things we move.
Well, guess what?! While we may be the main reason for their propagation, we are also the solution in helping to keep these pests from spreading. So here are 6 tips for saying no to pesky Hungry Pests.
- Only buy plants from reputable sources, such as established nurseries or online businesses. Ask where they buy their plants and if they comply with federal quarantine restrictions. Fly-by-night dealers, whether in your neighborhood or online, may not be doing what is required to keep plants free of invasive pests.
- If you live in the northeast section of the country, (like I do), inspect lawn furniture, fences, walls and other outdoor items for gypsy moth egg masses. Remove and immerse gypsy moth egg masses in soapy water. This is especially important before moving outdoor items to areas outside your property. Gypsy moths eat more than 300 species of trees and shrubs, including fruit trees. Early detection is key to controlling them, so report findings to federal or state agricultural officials.
- Call your local USDA office to find out how to safely dispose of trees, branches or other yard debris. Moving such material to areas outside your property could spread invasive pests. Make sure any contractors you are working with also follow these procedures. For a list of local USDA offices, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/sphd.
- Look for round and D-shaped holes in trees, especially in the late spring and summer months. They could be the exit holes of Asian longhorned beetles or emerald ash borers. Also look for yellow, thin or wilted leaves, shoots growing from roots or tree trunks, sawdust-like material on the ground or in branches, and unusual woodpecker activity. If you see something that looks suspicious, be safe and report it using the “Report a Pest” button found on the home page of the Hungry Pests’ website.
- Don’t move citrus plants or items made with fresh citrus, such as floral arrangements, or kaffir lime leaves used in cooking. That’s how citrus greening – a citrus disease that is killing America’s orange groves – has spread.
- You may live in an area under quarantine for an invasive pest. Call your local USDA office to find out before moving homegrown produce, plants and plant parts. And to be safe, don’t bring back plants from other areas, including when traveling abroad. That’s how the Mexican fruit fly – which threatens at least 50 types of fruits and vegetables – entered the United States.
Here is a handy infographic that explains the importance of each tip. You can download and print it out as a reference. Whether you are a master gardener or just a weekend warrior, we can all follow these simple steps to combat these pests. Don’t let invasive pests ruin our gardening fun. I know that I don’t want any hungry pests invading my beautiful flower and vegetable gardens. I am sure you will agree, and together we can claim victory over these pesky pests.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The opinions and text are all mine.