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New Source for Invasive Species Information in Illinois

September 25, 2006
The Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey (CAPS) will soon be getting its own Web site to provide the public with information on invasive species in Illinois and surveys the CAPS program is conducting. Until then, pest alerts and updates are available on the Illinois CAPS program blog: http://illinoiscapsprogram.blogspot.com/.

For those who may not know a lot about the CAPS program, it is a combined effort by federal and state agricultural organizations to collect information and manage data on plant pests, weeds, and biological control agents. In the past, it has focused on monitoring endemic plant pests to determine first-of-season occurrences and economically important pest population levels. The program has redirected its efforts to exotic plant pest and weed detection, pest range documentation, and data collection and management.

The probability of accidental transportation and introduction of exotic plants and plant pests into the United States continues to increase. The United States is the largest trading nation in the world for both imports and exports. Even though highly trained experts staff more than 110 U.S. ports of entry to prevent the accidental introduction of foreign pests that may accompany goods coming into the states, it is likely that a new pest will slip through our first line of defense. Emphasis is placed on early detection and rapid response to pests that may evade detection at ports of entry. Regional pest-detection committees within the CAPS program compile exotic pest lists based on interception records, pathway and risk analysis, and information provided by experts in various scientific disciplines. Surveys conducted target weeds, nematodes, plant diseases, insects, snails, and other invertebrates.

Stay tuned to find out more about the CAPS program, what surveys we will be conducting in 2007, and the introduction of the new Web site early next year. Until then, stop by the Illinois CAPS program blog to catch up on invasive species news.

(Kelly Cook, State Survey Coordinator, CAPS)