Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) wants gardeners to be on the lookout for invasive plants, pests and diseases when they head to their local greenhouse or nursery this summer.
Gardners and homeowners should keep in mind the impact the plants they choose could have on other plants around their landscape or garden. Invasive and non-native plants have few or no natural predators and can quickly spread, disrupting ecosystems by pushing out native species and reducing biodiversity.
Many plants and flowers, even ones native to Michigan, can be hosting pests and diseases. The invasive pests and diseases can be transported to a homeowner’s yard and then quickly spread. Warmer weather can make their impact even greater.
“People can unintentionally move pests around the state,” said Robin Rosenbaum, Plant Health Section Manager 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 spotted lanternfly can lay eggs on conveyances in an infested region and then be transported into Michigan.”
How to combat spread of invasive pests, diseases
MDARD has issued plant pest quarantines to limit the movement of specific plant material within, into, or out of Michigan.
The quarantines help combat the movement of invasive species like the spongy moth, Asian longhorned beetle and others.
“Quarantines are a useful tool to control the spread of invasives, but we need help from the public to stop the spread of pests we’re most concerned about,” Rosenbaum said.
If you’re buying plant material online, you should know that many websites and social media groups do not have enough information about state and federal quarantines and concerns about pest movement. Buying from a local MDARD-licensed nursery is a good way to minimize risk.
Here is what MDARD suggests you do limit the spread of invasive species:
- Visit the Michigan Invasive Species website to learn how to spot invasive pests posing a threat to plants and agriculture in your area.
- Don’t move untreated firewood. Buy certified, heat-treated firewood or buy wood where you burn it and burn it all before you go 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 pest-free.
- Make sure seeds and plants you buy online are not invasive to your region.
- Report signs of invasive plant pests and diseases to MDARD through the Michigan Invasive Species website or at 800-292-3939.