The Hungry Pests project is preparing to unveil a new statewide advertising campaign designed to raise awareness of invasive species in California. You heard it here first—and you can see it first too, by visiting www.youtube.com/hungrypests.
I am extremely enthusiastic about this campaign. I have been working on invasive pest issues for the USDA in the State of California for almost 20 years, and this is the first time we’ve undertaken a campaign that is as informative and attention-grabbing as this.
The message about the dangers posed by invasive pests is an important one. Few residents are aware of the serious threat invasive pests pose to California’s agricultural and natural resources and to its economy.
This awareness is important, because our actions can easily contribute to the problem. It may seem harmless, even generous, to bring back a unique piece of fruit from a foreign land (or another state) to share with your family and friends…but that seemingly harmless act could greatly impact California. That good looking piece of fruit could be harboring pest eggs, which grow into larvae, which would likely cause you to toss the fruit into your compost pile. But those larvae may enter our ecosystem, begin reproducing and spread beyond your yard before you know it. That pest could potentially spread to commercial agricultural areas, damage crops and impact the availability of fresh produce both in your area and statewide—not to mention affecting the livelihood of those who grow and harvest it.
Similarly, it is important for the public to be aware that the effort to find smart solutions is ongoing and urgent. Invasive pests represent a very real threat.
From about 1980 to 2000, USDA and California Department of Food and Agriculture spent more than $300 million on fruit fly eradication programs alone. And that’s just fruit flies—it doesn’t take into account other pests like the emerald ash borer, false codling moth, Asian citrus psyllid or marine pests like quagga mussels.
USDA is working to find smart solutions to this threat. We realize that by raising awareness of invasive pests, we’re asking Californians to think about one more thing, on top of everything else people are thinking and worrying about these days. But this is the first step—to help people understand the nature of the problem and learn about what the solutions might be. I hope people will take the next step after viewing the ads and visit www.hungrypests.com to learn more about the invasive pests currently posing the greatest threats to California’s agriculture, horticulture, landscaping and environment.
Keep an eye on your television and newspapers and listen to your radio starting August 17 when our Hungry Pests campaign begins in California. We expect it will raise some eyebrows as well as awareness of invasive species issues.
Legislative and Public Affairs Officer
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
United States Department of Agriculture