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Celebrate Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month By Reporting These Horrifying Species

April 1st marks the beginning of Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, but how does somebody celebrate?

April 1st marks the beginning of Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. But how does one honor this event? For starters, by watching out for, reporting and killing invasive pests like these:

1. The pest: The horrifying giant African snail

These slimy villains have wreaked havoc from Florida to Australia. They’re the size of a baseball, lay 1,200 eggs each year, can survive at almost any temperature, carry meningitis and eat 500 different kinds of crops and the sides of houses. Right now, Australia is panicking over having discovered just one of these giant snails. The USDA wrote in 2012, after squelching an invasion:

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve faced this damaging invasive pest. Back in 1966, a boy smuggled three giant African snails into South Florida upon returning from a trip to Hawaii. His grandmother eventually released the snails into her garden. Those initial three snails grew into one giant family—after completing a 10 year, $1 million eradication campaign, we had collected and destroyed more than 18,000 snails!

How to celebrate Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month with the giant African snail: Call an expert.

Aside from being a huge problem for crops and houses, the snails slime isn’t really safe to handle. And remember, they can carry meningitis. Let someone else handle your snail problem.

2. The pest: the Asian longhorned beetle

These beetles are quite beautiful, with shiny black bodies and little blue spots along their antennae and bodies. But don’t be fooled. The Asian longhorned beetle invasion has felled tens of thousands of trees in the Northeastern United States. The USDA writes:

The ALB has the potential to cause more damage than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight and gypsy moths combined, destroying millions of acres of America’s treasured hardwoods, including national forests and backyard trees.

How to celebrate Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month with the Asian longhorned beetle: Report it.

Your region might be quarantined, like some are right now in New York and other states, but there’s no cure for the beetle infection, so the only thing to do is to stop its spread.

3. The pest: the grapevine moth

These moths threaten something quite important—wine. They feed on the flowers of plants and can leave behind fungal diseases that rot the fruits. Understandably, winemakers of the United States are not pleased, and Napa Valley has its own dedicated grapevine moth initiative.

How to celebrate Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month with the grapevine moth: Spray pesticides to kill it.

Farmers can apply the recommended doses of pesticides to keep the moth at bay. Here’s the Napa Valley program:

If applications are timed properly, conventional growers would only need to make one application for each of the two generations.  For organic growers, a total of four to five applications for the two generations will be necessary due to shorter residual of the organic insecticides.  Growers are advised to alternate between products to minimize risk of insecticide resistance.  Timing for the first application should be just prior to the beginning of bloom.

The list of invasive species goes on and on and—from your orange juice, to your maple syrup to your landscape, do apples and pears, to baseball bats—affects most parts of your day.

More from Smithsonian.com:

This Giant Snail Is Giving Australia Terrible Flashbacks to the Last Giant Snail Takeover
Are Humans an Invasive Species?
Invasion of the Longhorn Beetles

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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