Spring is Here…Time to take to the ground!!!!
Clean-up Your Yard and Garden
By: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
When it comes to preventing the spread of invasive pests, every one of us can play a big role. By doing the right things we can all help stop this threat to so much that we value. Please do your part and learn what you can do to leave Hungry Pests behind.
The mild winter that we experienced in Stratford this winter (did we have a winter?) will impact our spring and summer pests that are on the lookout for those tasty plants. All bugs have a certain level of “cold tolerance.” Rather than dying off during the winter, many bugs simply become inactive or dormant, only to emerge once temperatures rise. To survive in this dormant state, pests need to find a warm place to spend the winter, like deep underground or inside a human home. When the temperature drops – especially below zero – these insects can die off. But a mild winter leaves more above ground insects alive, which means more wake and hatch when the weather warms, leading to more insects in spring and summer. And, Winter temperatures have to be extremely cold for a long time to affect mosquitoes and ticks. So our mild winter does not mean that there will be more of these blood suckers out there. But the early arrival of spring-like temperatures does mean that mosquitoes and ticks are becoming active earlier.
These damaging pests can hitchhike from place to place on our cars and trucks, hidden in fruit, vegetables, plants, firewood or on familiar outdoor items. But we can all learn to be more careful when we’re traveling or involved in outdoor activities. Working together, we can protect our crops and trees from harm.
The first step is to be aware of the pests that might be a threat in your area. Then be sure to cooperate with any regulations or quarantines that might be in effect. Finally, take care to be sure that you’re never packing a pest. Let’s all leave Hungry Pests behind.
Gardeners know nature’s balance. Be careful not to tilt the scales with a Hungry Pest. A gardener’s hand can direct the ebb of life and transform a landscape. And with that ability comes responsibility. Be sure that Hungry Pests aren’t part of your design. Keep your eyes open and know the right things to do.
Preventing the introduction and establishment of invasive species in a new area is everyone’s responsibility. And there are important, simple things that we should all be aware of:
- Buy only certified, pest-free nursery whenever possible.
- Buy your plants from a reputable source and avoid using invasive plant species at all costs.
- Buy your plants and seeds from domestic nurseries or learn how to import them legally to prevent the spread of Hungry Pests.
- Remove invasive plants from your garden.
- Until you are able to rid your garden of invasive plants, be responsible and remember to remove and destroy seed heads before they can spread. Also, don’t share invasives with other gardeners.
- Talk to other gardeners about invasives and how you plan to help in the fight against them.
- If you are worried that your garden will lose its luster after removing invasives, talk to your local native plant society or exotic pest plant council. These organizations will be able to suggest suitable native replacements.
Bird watching is about patience, keen observation and careful identification. Those are skills that can also help stop the spread of Hungry Pests. Please do your part when outdoors.
- To avoid spreading seed of invasive plants, learn to recognize infestations and avoid passing through them.
- Clean equipment, boots and gear between trips or, preferably, before leaving an infested area. Make sure to remove all seeds and other plant parts.
- Report any invasive sightings to the local land manager or local USDA office.
- Change the water in bird baths often to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
Hikers, bikers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts share a special responsibility. When we get close to nature, it also means that nature can also get close to us. In fact, something unwanted may try to hitch a ride home. It’s important to be careful and make sure we’re helping take care of the outdoors we love. Don’t move firewood. Buy or use firewood that is close to your campsite.
Invasive pests can easily be transported on living plants or fresh products such as fruit.
Many pests can be found in recently killed plant material including firewood, lumber, and wood packaging material. Avoiding the long-range movement of these materials to help slow the spread of pests.
Report any suspected invasive species to your county extension agent or local USDA office.