USDA: Time for 'Sea Change' in Fighting Pests

Officials release list of top 15 threats

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 1, 2013 9:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – Pests are causing billions of dollars of agricultural damage—the Asian citrus psyllid alone has cost Florida growers $4.5 billion—and it's time for a "sea change" in how we deal with them. Today, the USDA is releasing its list of the top 15 pest threats, USA Today reports. It's calling for cracking down on small things like bringing outside firewood to campsites or bringing fruit from your backyard to a friend's house, if you live in a quarantined zone. After all, it doesn't take much to spark an infestation: The Asian citrus psyllid launched its devastation, for example, after a single person brought a plant cutting home from Asia.

Along with the psyllid, there's the Asian Longhorned Beetle, which has attacked Massachusetts trees: "You used to have tree-lined streets, and now these neighborhoods are just devoid of trees," says a forester. Others include the Giant African Snail, up to 8 inches long, which eats 500 plants as well as paint and plaster; it can also be a meningitis threat. Click through for the full list.

The Asian citrus psyllid.
The Asian citrus psyllid.   (AP Photo/University of Florida, Michael Rogers, file)
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