The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has opened an email hotline for the early detection of invasive pests.
Residents can send a picture of a suspected pest, a brief description of visible damage to buildings or plants and their location to firstname.lastname@example.org. Landowners will be notified if the tip raises concerns, and a site visit may be scheduled.
“Our plant industries division wants to be proactive in protecting our forests. We do not have the resources or the manpower to patrol every square mile in West Virginia,” Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt said in a news release. “We need help protecting one of West Virginia’s most valuable resources.”
Two destructive insects, the Asian longhorned beetle and the spotted lanternfly, have been on the invasive pest watch list for some time in West Virginia.
The Asian longhorned beetle was first discovered in Brooklyn, NY in 1996. It has since been detected in several locations including Clermont County, OH in 2011. The spotted lanternfly was first discovered in Berks County, PA in 2014, but it also was detected in Delaware this past November. Both insects are native to Asia.
An Agriculture Department spokesman says in a news release landowners are encouraged to send good-quality pictures that clearly show any defining features to help staff accurately identify potential invasive pests.
“The WVDA encourages landowners to send good quality pictures that clearly show any defining features. This will help our staff accurately identify potential invasive pests,” said WVDA Plant Industries Director Tim Brown.
For questions about the new hotline or invasive pests in general, contact Susan Parker at 304-558-2212 or email@example.com.