By Terry Bourgoin, state plant health director, and Gary Fish, state horticulturist
You may have heard that invasive plant pests and diseases are primarily introduced through commercial trade and that’s true. But once they are here, these destructive plant pests don’t move far on their own; they are mostly spread by us. Through our everyday actions — hen we take firewood from home to our campsite, mail a gift of homegrown fruits or plants, or order plants, seeds or fruit online — we can contribute to the unintentional spread of any number of destructive plant pests. So when people wonder if their individual actions really matter, the answer is yes.
Damaging pests like the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer threaten the entire State of Maine. These pests can hide in firewood or on wood packaging material (crates, pallets, etc.) that accompanies products from other countries. Fortunately, these pests are not in our state and we need your help to keep it that way. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn more about these destructive plant pests and help us stop the spread of invasive species.
It only takes one person to move something they shouldn’t. For instance, we know the emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle didn’t fly to New Hampshire on its own, it hitchhiked there. And now all of their urban, suburban and rural ash trees are at risk of attack by this devastating pest. And, the risks from EAB stretch well beyond New Hampshire borders, today EAB infestations are in 30 States.
Invasive plant pests and diseases are a threat in almost every state. If we allow them to enter and become established, these pests could devastate our neighborhoods and public green spaces, and cause damage to native species of plants, forests, watersheds, lakes, rivers and water delivery systems. As it stands today, damage from invasive plant pests costs our nation about $40 billion annually.
To protect our state, we are asking Mainers to join us in the battle against invasive plant pests and diseases. Give us a call to learn what you can do. During the month of October, which is Firewood Awareness Month, we urge you to learn more about ways you can help protect our forest resources and stop the spread of these harmful pests. More information.
Contacts: Terry Bourgoin, State Plant Health Director, http://How do I know if I’ve found emerald ash borer?Maine Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service,
Gary Fish, State Horticulturist, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, 207-287-7545.