The best way to fight invasive species is to prevent them from occurring! This section provides information about how to take action against invasive species, with general volunteer opportunities and other ways that the average citizen can help to prevent and control invasive species. You can help by learning what invasive species are in your state and what is being done about them.
See related information:
- Public Awareness Campaigns
- Outreach and Awareness
- What You Can Do
- Volunteer for organized efforts to remove invasive species from natural areas. Help educate others about the threat of invasive species.
- Check out our U.S. Resources to learn more about invasive species by location.
- See our Species Profiles to learn more about invasive species.
- Locate the Extension specialist near you to help identify possible invasive species or for local control information.
- Expertise Contacts -- Find additional invasive species contacts.
Monitoring and Reporting
- You can help with efforts to control invasive species by reporting occurrences of invasive species. See What Is the Best Way to Report the Occurrence of an Invasive Species? and additional reporting resources.
- Use smartphone applications to assist in tracking and monitoring invasive species.
- Report any new invasive species and location expansions, see:
- Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance (SITC) Program -- If individuals are aware of the potential smuggling of prohibited exotic fruits, vegetables, or meat products into or through the U.S. (including via the Internet), they can help USDA, APHIS by contacting the confidential Antismuggling Hotline number at 800-877-3835 or SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov.
Travelers, Hikers, Campers, Boaters, and Hunters
- Don't Pack a Pest -- Find out what agricultural items are allowed entry into the U.S. and certain Caribbean countries. Fruits, vegetables, plants, and animals can carry pests. Declare all agricultural items (including food) to customs officials when returning from international travel.
- Traveler Information -- Provides important information about which agricultural items are safe to enter the U.S.)
- Predeparture Inspection Program -- Facilitates the movement of travelers, baggage, mail and cargo to prevent the introduction of these harmful and invasive pests
- Or, call USDA to find out what's allowed:
- Questions about plants: (301) 851-2046
- Questions about animals: (301) 851-3300
- What food items can I bring into the United States for personal use?
- PlayCleanGo -- Clean hiking boots, waders, boats and trailers, off-road vehicles, and other pathways of spread to stop hitchhiking invasive species. To protect the landscape and game animals, hunters are asked to clean all mud, seeds and propagating plant parts from boots, vehicles, and equipment before entering the backcountry so that invasive plants from their homes are not accidentally introduced to the backcountry. Everything should again be cleaned before leaving the backcountry.
- Don't Move Firewood -- Purchase your firewood locally to avoid the spread of invasive infestations. To best protect trees, make sure all your firewood is sourced less than 50 miles from where it will be burned or is certified.
- Why Cleaning Your Gear Matters -- many activities can inadvertently spread invasive plants or animals, while hiking, angling, boating or four-wheeling. See how to take steps to prevent the spread of invasive species.
- Clean, Drain & Dry -- Help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species while boating.
- Some U.S. states require that boaters purchase an aquatic invasive species decal (sometimes called a stamp, sticker, or permit) before operating watercraft in that state.
- Many Western states instituted watercraft inspection and decontamination programs.
- Check with your State and Territorial Fish and Wildlife Offices for local information and regulations.
- Your Move Gypsy Moth Free -- Protect your new neighborhood and surrounding natural areas before you move, inspect your outdoor household items for gypsy moth egg masses and remove them.
- Purchase certified "weed-free" products (forage, gravel and mulch), firewood, hay, and soil.
- Remove invasive plants from your land and use native plants or non-invasive plants in your garden. Learn more -- I am a gardener: why should I care about invasive species and what can gardeners do to help prevent the spread of invasive species?
- For specific recommendations of native alternatives, see the Special Collections section of the Native Plant Information Network to learn what native plants are recommended for various purposes and by location. Or, your local Native Plant Societies often are your best source of information about plants native to your area.
- Before you purchase a pet, know what you're getting yourself into and never release pets to the wild -- make the right choice before you buy! If you have a domestic pet or exotic pet you no longer want, please contact your local animal shelter, which has connections to help place the animal with an appropriate home.
- Habitattitude -- Avoid dumping aquariums (including fish or plants) or live bait into waterways. Promotes and increases consumer awareness and responsible behaviors associated with aquarium and water garden hobbies.
- Don't Let it Loose -- Abandoned pets released into the wild can become a serious invasive species threat. Releasing a pet is not only cruel to the animal, which will most likely die, it could also lead to great ecological damage should that introduced species find a niche to successfully colonize. Find Western state resources if you are no longer willing or able to care for your pet.
- Before applying pesticides, make sure you understand:
- the importance of reading the pesticide label; and
- always be diligent concerning personal protective equipment.
- Note: Some States have restrictions on the use of certain pesticides. Check your State and local regulations. Also, because registrations of pesticides are under constant review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, consult your county agricultural agent or State extension specialist to be sure intended use is still registered.
- Find your State Pesticide Regulatory Agency.
- Take action for pollinators which are essential for our food supply:
- Source your plants and seeds responsibly.
- Find native plant alternatives in your local area.
- When ordering online, don't assume items from foreign retailers are legal to import into the U.S.
- Learn about responsibly buying and selling plants and seeds online.
- Don't mail homegrown plants as you may live in a area under quarantine for a harmful invasive plant pest.
- Don't move citrus plants or plants materials out of quarantined areas.