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Invasive Species Resources

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International Maritime Organization.

Amendments to an international treaty aimed at preventing the spread of potentially invasive species in ships' ballast water entered into force on 13 October 2019. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (the BWM Convention) was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, to address this problem. The BWM Convention entered into force in 2017. The amendments formalise an implementation schedule to ensure ships manage their ballast water to meet a specified standard ("D-2 standard") aimed at ensuring that viable organisms are not released into new sea areas, and make mandatory the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which sets out how ballast water management systems used to achieve the D-2 standard have to be assessed and approved. This will help ensure that aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location – and avoid the spread of invasive species as well as potentially harmful pathogens.

USDA. Blog.

Humans adores trees. But humans also migrate and trade, habits that led to the accidental introduction of insects and diseases that harm trees and alter the landscape. Examples are easy to find and may be outside your front door: American elms that once dotted streets across America succumbed to Dutch elm disease. Now all colors of ash species – black, green, white, pumpkin, and blue – are threatened by emerald ash borer. The already uncommon butternut tree, also known as white walnut, faces the possibility of extinction from a mysterious attacker. Many invasive insects and fungi come from regions where native trees have evolved to resist their attacks. When these species enter the United States, they find trees that lack this resistance. There's no immediate end to this dismal pipeline, but there is hope on the horizon.

USDA. Agricultural Research Service.
USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is rolling out Tellus, its new online communications platform, replacing its legacy AgResearch online magazine. ARS is committed to sharing the stories of its scientists and their successes and looks forward to informing and entertaining viewers about the many ways ARS’ revolutionary research impacts the growing world.

USDA. Agricultural Research Service.

Along the Rio Grande in Texas, tiny insects are taking a big bite out of an invasive weed that competes for limited water resources vital to agriculture and native vegetation. Several years ago, ARS scientists released two insect species as part of a biocontrol program to kill giant reed (Arundo donax).

Entomological Society of America. Entomology Today.
Invasive insect and arthropod species make for a lot of scary headlines—think emerald ash borer, spotted lanternfly, and Asian longhorned tick, just to name a few. But success stories in invasive-species response are out there. They just need to be told. One of those success stories is the eradication of the European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana) in northern California after it was found there in 2009. A cooperative, multipronged response effort kept infestations from running wild, and it was declared eradicated in 2016, two years after the last adult moth was caught in the region. The story of this effort is recounted, along with analysis of the invasion’s dynamics, in a study published in January in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is urging anglers to report and dispose of any invasive Northern Snakehead fish that may be caught in the lower Susquehanna River. This advisory follows the documented movement of 21 Northern Snakeheads past the Conowingo Dam into the Conowingo Pool, a 14-mile-long section of the Susquehanna River located between the Conowingo Dam in Maryland and the Holtwood Dam in Pennsylvania. Anglers are reminded that possession, transport, and importation of a live snakehead is unlawful in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. Any of these invasive fish that are caught should be killed and disposed of properly or consumed. Anglers who suspect they have caught a snakehead are encouraged to NOT release it, and report it to the PFBC at (610) 847-2442 or by sending an email to tgrabowski@pa.gov. For more information on Northern Snakeheads in Pennsylvania, including an identification guide, visit the PFBC snakehead resource page.

USDAAPHISPPQCPHST. Identification Technology Program.

ITP and the APHIS PPQ S&T Beltsville Lab are pleased to announce the release of IDphy: Molecular and Morphological Identification of Phytopthora Based on the Types, ITP’s first pathogen tool. This website offers PPQ and its partners the most complete, valid, and up-to-date resource for identifying the culturable species of Phytophthora. IDphy includes detailed standard operating procedures for all steps involved in culturing, sequencing, and identifying suspect samples, covering both molecular and morphological methods. Some species of Phytophthora are devastating plant pathogens that have a significant impact on agriculture and natural ecosystems.

USDA. APHIS. Plant Protection and Quarantine.
USDA's Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) continuously takes steps to enhance our ability to exclude, control, and eradicate pests and increase the safety of agricultural trade. Across the country, PPQ worked with the States and other partners to detect, contain, and when possible, eradicate invading pests. On the world stage, PPQ worked closely with our international trading partners to develop and promote science-based standards, helping to create a safe, fair, and predictable agricultural trade system that minimizes the spread of invasive plant pests and diseases. Learn about the many successes and accomplishments captured in the 2018 report (APHIS 81-05-021) and how PPQ is working every day to keep U.S. agriculture healthy and profitable.

USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has analyzed the potential environmental effects of establishing an integrated management strategy to control cogongrass in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The draft environmental assessment is now available for comment. Cogongrass is an invasive exotic grass found on public and private property, along roadways, in forests, and on farmland. This federally regulated noxious weed grows rapidly, reducing forest productivity, harming wildlife habitat and ecosystems, and encroaching on pastures and hayfields. Because of cogongrass' impact on agriculture and forest industries, Congress has given APHIS funding to partner with Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina to control the spread of this weed. APHIS is proposing is an integrated management strategy that uses preventive, cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical methods to control cogongrass in key areas of its distribution. APHIS invites the public to review and comment on this environmental assessment by April 1, 2020.

USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has analyzed the potential environmental impacts of releasing a parasitoid wasp to biologically control the Russian wheat aphid. The Russian wheat aphid is a wingless, pale yellow-green or gray-green insect lightly dusted with white wax powder that feeds and develops on grass and cereal species. The biological control agent is a small, stingless wasp called Aphelinus hordei that can be used to reduce the severity of damage caused by Russian wheat aphids. Based on our assessment and other relevant data, releasing this biological control agent will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment. APHIS invites the public to review and comment on the environmental assessment until June 4, 2020, 30 days after publication in the Federal Register on May 5, 2020. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2020-0009 to comment.

USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is launching a new “Pests and Diseases” webpage. The new page lists all pest and disease programs managed by APHIS as part of its mission to protect American agriculture and natural resources.

 

On the new page, users can search by type (plant, animal), keyword (avian, fruit fly, cotton), or by the specific pest or disease (coconut rhinoceros beetle, brucellosis). You can also scroll through the page, which lists the pests and diseases alphabetically and includes a corresponding image.

 

APHIS created the webpage to make it easier for its customers to find critical information on pests and diseases of concern. With this tool, members of the public will have the information they need to report pests and diseases and together we can protect America’s agriculture and natural resources.

USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to lift the domestic quarantine for pine shoot beetle. Despite efforts to control pine shoot beetle since it was first detected in 1992, this pest, which only infests stressed and dying pine trees, is now found in 20 states in the northeast and north central parts of the country. Given the limited impact of interstate movement restrictions on the beetle’s spread and the minimal damage this pest has caused to native pines, plantations, and nursery trade, we are proposing to remove the pine shoot beetle domestic quarantine. This action would allow the states to determine the best approach for managing the pest within their boundaries, relieve impacted businesses and individuals from having to comply with costly and burdensome restrictions, and allow APHIS to focus limited federal resources on higher risk pests. APHIS will carefully consider all comments received.  Beginning Monday, members of the public will be able to submit comments for 60 days, or until November 22, 2019 at: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2016-0065

USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has again reopened the comment period on the protocols for regulating and deregulating pale cyst nematode (PCN)-infested and associated areas. APHIS initially accepted comments on the protocols March 1, 2019, and again on June 26, 2019 for 30 days. APHIS is providing the public with an additional opportunity to comment on the science supporting the protocols, including the sources of the methods informing their content. In an effort to give all interested parties ample opportunities to comment, we are reopening the comment period for 30 days beginning June 5, 2020 and ending July 6, 2020. Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the development of these protocols by submitting comments starting on the day of publication until July 6, 2020 at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2018-0041.

USDA. Agricultural Research Service.

Dogs specially trained by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have proven to be the most efficient way to detect huanglongbing—also known as citrus greening—according to a paper just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Currently, the only solid hope of curtailing the spread of citrus greening is to eliminate trees with the disease as quickly as possible to prevent further spread. Early detection of the citrus greening pathogen is crucial because trees can be infected and act as a source to spread the disease months or years before showing symptoms that are detectable by the naked eye. ARS plant epidemiologist Timothy R. Gottwald with the U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Florida, discovered that dogs can be trained to sniff out the presence of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the bacteria that causes citrus greening, with greater than 99 percent accuracy.

USDA. ARS. Tellus.

An Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist in the Pacific Northwest has joined the hunt for the infamous Asian giant hornet (AGH) — a threat to honey bees in its native territory that could also endanger honey bees in the United States if it becomes established here. AGH is also a health concern for people with bee or wasp allergies. At roughly 2 inches in length, this invasive species from Southeast Asia is the world's largest hornet. It has distinctive markings: a large orange or yellow head and black-and-orange stripes across its body. While the hornet's sting delivers a potent venom that can cause severe reactions—and in some cases, death—in some people who are allergic to bee stings, attacks against humans are rare. AGH earned its bad reputation from the way it hunts down honey bees and other insects, primarily during the late summer months when it seeks protein to feed its young.

UNFAO. Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
An insect that can infest and damage hundreds of hectares of maize fields, literally overnight, is sweeping across Asia – alarming smallholder farmers and threatening livelihoods – but the damage can be limited, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today. Fall Armyworm is native to the Americas. However, since 2016 it has been aggressively moving ever eastwards, sweeping across Africa, and making landfall for the first time in Asia last summer. Fall Armyworm (FAW) was first detected in India in July 2018 and by January of this year, it had spread to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and China’s Yunnan Province.

USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

Forests are complex ecosystems. They are constantly changing as a result of tree growth, variations in weather and climate, and disturbances from fire, pathogens, and other stressors. The USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program tracks these ongoing changes — every year, across the nation — as a forest health check up. The 2018 FHM report is the only national summary of forest health undertaken on an annual basis. It contains short- and long-term forest health assessments for the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The report is available as a General Technical Report. Individual chapters can be downloaded, and the full series of FHM annual reports is also available. Users can search reports and chapters by year or topic. Highlights and additional resources are also included.

USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) wants to remind the public that August is Tree Check Month. This is the best time to spot the round, drill-like holes made by the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB); a highly destructive invasive pest that destroys trees.

The Asian longhorned beetle has the potential to destroy millions of acres of America's treasured hardwoods, including maple, birch, elm, willow, ash and poplar trees. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure to save infested trees. They need to be removed to keep the beetle from spreading to nearby trees, as well as to protect homes and other personal property since infested trees will die and can drop branches. The beetle is slow to spread on its own during the early stages of an infestation, so early detection and reporting is critical to containing it.

USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

White-nose syndrome has been spreading through U.S. bat populations since 2006 and has caused mass die-offs in various regions of the country. The syndrome is caused by Pd (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), a fungus that invades the skin of bats while they hibernate. USDA Forest Service wildlife biologists Roger Perry and Phillip Jordan conducted a study to calculate the survival rates of tricolored bats (Perimyotis subflavus) in the Ouachita Mountains of west-central Arkansas. The research helps satisfy the need for robust estimates of population data amid the WNS outbreak. The scientists chose to study the tricolored bat because it is common across North America and has suffered substantial declines due to WNS. The research highlights the importance of maintaining and protecting small hibernation sites as they may be critical to the conservation of the tricolored bat species.

USDA. ARS. Tellus.

ARS entomologist is developing microbial pesticides for the effective control of mosquitoes and the pathogens they transmit.