Hawaii is home to plant and animal species found nowhere else. For millions of years, new arrivals would establish in our islands an average of once every 3,000 years via Makani (wind), moana (deep ocean currents), or manu (birds or seeds hitchhiking in their gut). After they arrived to our isolated island chain, they evolved to live in their new environment, becoming new species over hundreds of thousands of years. Today, due to globalization, a new plant, animal, or pathogen that has never been documented in Hawaii arrives every three days. Some of these new arrivals can become invasive, harming not only our environment and Hawaii’s unique biodiversity but also causing adverse effects on our agriculture industry, health, cultural practices, and quality of life.
Multiple agencies across the state work every day to address invasive species issues, and local businesses are pitching in. Since many new species arrive hitchhiking on nursery materials, nurseries can be frontline heroes in helping to stop new pests before they spread into the environment.
A new training for nurseries is now available. The Pest Prevention Training Program was created by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The training, offered by the island-based Invasive Species Committees, will feature information about the identification, reporting, and best management practices for some high-risk pests that are either not known to occur in Hawaii, not known to occur in the United States, or pests that are present but are a high priority for containment (like coconut rhinoceros beetle).
Here are some pests not yet found on Maui to be on the lookout for. If you think you’ve seen these pests, report immediately to 643pest.org.