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Public holds power to identify, slow invasive species

Ag Communications
By Jennifer Stewart
July 23, 2007

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Whether plants, insects or pathogens, invasive pests of plants can be devastating, but thanks to a new Purdue University Web site, people will now be able to help identify and report these menaces.

The Indiana Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) program, which is a collaborative effort between Purdue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service division of Plant Protection and Quarantine, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and the Indiana chapter of The Nature Conservancy, recently launched a new Web site highlighting Indiana's "most unwanted" invasive plant pests, http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/CAPS.

The list is determined yearly by the Indiana CAPS state survey committee and identifies exotic species, invasive species and pests regulated by state or federal laws that could affect Indiana. The list is also used by officials to determine how resources for surveys and outreach and educational programs are best spent to protect Indiana.

People can search the site by the pest's name, the commodity it attacks or by its habitat. The Web site reports the pest's known distribution and whether it is currently present in Indiana. Visitors also can learn which invasive plant pests are found in specific Indiana counties.

"This site gives people tools to help identify invasive plant pests and the knowledge to help prevent these species from spreading further," said Christopher Pierce, Indiana CAPS state survey coordinator and Purdue Extension entomology specialist. "We will use this site as an outreach and education tool so people not only know what to look for, but who to contact if they think they've found something."

Another aspect of the site is the ability it gives people to identify suspicious plant pests they find.

"If people see something they don’t recognize, they can use the site to determine if it is potentially invasive, and if it is, what risks it poses," Pierce said. "The Web site also gives instructions on reporting suspicious finds, either by calling the Indiana DNR at 1-866-NO EXOTIC or submitting samples to the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory."

Writer: Jennifer Stewart, (765) 494-6682, jsstewar@purdue.edu

Source: Christopher Pierce, (765) 494-9522, cpierce@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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