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Report plant pests to help protect Canada’s plant resources

August 2022 | Canadian Food Inspection Agency | by Fedaa Khirallah and Bruno Gallant, Invasive Alien Species and Domestic Programs Section

Note: a version of this article first appeared in a December 2021 issue of the Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Canada, authored by Bruno Gallant (CFIA), Suzanne Blatt (AAFC ), Hume Douglas (AAFC), Roselyne Labbé (AAFC), Kathryn Makela (AAFC).

All Canadians have a role to play in protecting plants in Canada from invasive insects and plant species. This includes reporting findings of plant pests to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Invasive plants, insects, snails, slugs and pathogens all have the potential to negatively impact Canada's agriculture, forestry and environmental resources. Quickly determining their impact is key to minimizing any potential damage to the Canadian environment and economy.

The CFIA is a science-based regulator that sets plant health regulations, policies and programs that are consistent with international standards. With its authorities under the Plant Protection Act, the CFIA helps protect plant health and the agricultural and forestry sectors by preventing or controlling the introduction and spread of plant pests in Canada. This is done in many ways, including by implementing programs for plant imports and domestic plant protection.

Risks to plant resources have evolved considerably in recent years and will continue to do so. A growing population and diverse consumer preferences have led to an increase in the volume and variety of imported products, some of which may be pests or act as pathways for the introduction of plant pests. The effects of climate change can also create favourable conditions for pests to invade new areas. To keep pace with these changes, the CFIA works with its partners in Canada and abroad to develop and update plant protection requirements.

How you can help

Did you know that many plant pests are first reported by the public and community or citizen scientists? It's true! Public awareness and reporting helps the CFIA identify potential threats to plant health and quickly take action. Early detection is a key element to prevent or limit pest impacts on the environment. The earlier a pest is detected and reported, the quicker the CFIA can act to address the risks of it establishing and spreading.

Everyone can play an active role to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests and of other invasive species in Canada. This includes knowing what to look for, staying vigilant and reporting potential threats to the CFIA. This shared responsibility is in fact recognized in the Plant Protection Act, which includes a duty to notify the CFIA of any suspected plant pests that have not previously existed in an area.

Keep an eye out for these species of concern

The following 2 invasive species are native to Asia and regulated as plant pests in Canada under the Plant Protection Act. The CFIA's efforts to prevent or limit impacts from these species can be strengthened by the vigilance of Canadians looking for them and reporting sightings to the CFIA.

Spotted lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly is a colourful insect that presents a potential threat to the grape, fruit tree and forestry industries. The spotted lanternfly feeds on sap from the leaves and stems of host plants, which can cause grey or black weeping wounds and lead to fungal growth, mold patches and the eventual death of the plant. It is not known to be present in Canada - and the CFIA wants to keep it that way.

Because of its presence in the United States and the potential of it being carried in imports from Asia, it is important for all Canadians to be on the lookout for spotted lanternfly, and report any sightings to the CFIA.

Japanese stiltgrass

Japanese stiltgrass is considered one of the most damaging invasive plants in the United States. It is a fast-growing and aggressive species that can take over entire habitats and crowd out native vegetation. Japanese stiltgrass can be found in a variety of habitats, including parks, wetlands, roadsides, forests and disturbed areas. Currently, the presence of Japanese stiltgrass in Canada appears to be limited to a small population in southern Ontario.

Report any detections of Japanese stiltgrass to help the CFIA in its continued prevention and eradication efforts.

How to report a plant pest

Check out the CFIA's plant pest cards for other species to keep an eye out for.

To report a plant pest, please contact your local CFIA office, or report it directly through the CFIA website, iNaturalist or EDDMaps. When reporting on iNaturalist, you can tag @CFIA-ACIA in the comment section of your observation.

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