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Ahead of gardening season MDARD reminds public to help prevent the spread of invasive plant pests

LANSING — It's spring in Michigan and that means Michiganders are thinking about what they want to plant in their garden this year. As gardening season gets underway, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is asking people to learn about the risks posed by invasive plant pests, diseases, and harmful weeds and what they can do to help prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species.

"April is National Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month and so it's a great time to talk about invasives species. Undetected pests can easily spread by hitching rides on outdoor gear, vehicles, and untreated firewood,"  said Steve Carlson, Director of MDARD's Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. "They can also hide in or on plants, soil, seeds, and fresh produce, so it's important to make sure you're not accidentally giving a lift to an invasive species to a new location."

Simple ways to help limit the spread of invasive species:

  • Learn to spot invasive pests posing a threat to agriculture and the environment in your area. Report signs of invasive plant pests and diseases at website.
  • Purchase heat-treated firewood or buy wood where you burn it to avoid unintentionally spreading species that hide in untreated firewood.
  • When traveling, be aware of pests residing in your destination to avoid returning with them in tow. For international travel, declare food, plants and other agricultural items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure these items are pest-free.

"If allowed to spread unchecked, invasive plant pests can have devastating effects on native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering habitats," added Carlson. "Helping more people become educated about the risks of invasive species is our first line defense and a key component to helping protect Michigan's diverse ecosystems."

Check out MDARD's Buggin Out video series for information about invasive species, beneficial insects, pest management, and more. Visit to learn more about invasive species that pose a threat to Michigan and information about how to report suspected invasive plant pests.


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