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Welcome Home...Invasive Species?!

A Rose-Ringed Parakeet

Image by Annette Meyer from Pixabay

If you ever traveled, you know that most places if not all are strict with what you bring back. Whether it’s a house plant or some food, there are some rules each airport has- so make sure to keep them in mind to and from your location or face consequences!

I’ll get straight to the point. We have these rules so you don’t bring something, the invasive species, that could be detrimental to your home! That includes effects on your native plants, the agricultural industry, and in other cases, your health. Even if you think just one measly plant won’t do harm, you don’t know how aggressive they can spread. And when bringing a plant in, you will need to make sure there is nothing in it AND a permit. Trust me, I learned it the hard way. I thought by cleaning the plant and keeping it bare root was enough, but I was missing a permit. So sadly, the plants had to be burned. That reminds me…announce any food and plants you bring in!

Spotted Lanternfly nymphs

Image by Brenda on iNaturalist

Take the Glossy Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) for example. It's a small tree…can’t go anywhere, right? This plant produces berries which birds can eat…and well, you know the drill. It spreads! Or what about the Spotted Lanternfly everyone knows about? It is indigenous to Southeast Asia, and reported by some news, these pests probably arrived by a stone shipment. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, “...a 2019 economic impact study estimates that, uncontrolled, this insect could cost the state $324 million annually and more than 2,800 jobs.”

In another example, sometime during 2011 at the San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Puerto Rico, there was a shipment of pineapples from Panama. What else was found in the shipment? Pyraloid caterpillars, responsible for damaging various crops like rice, corn, and tomatoes.

An African Snail

Image by mrthoif0 on Pixabay

At the JFK Airport in 2021, the Customs and Border Protection found 22 Giant African Snails in a man’s baggage. This species of snails reproduce quickly, producing 1,200 eggs in a year. They also carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis. It isn’t the first time that the snail was brought over to the U.S.. It was first reported in southern Florida during the 1960s, and according to the USDA, it took 10 years and $1 million to eradicate it. Then it was reintroduced again in 2011! Currently, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is “ partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is conducting a regulatory program to eradicate this invasive species.”

The next time your plant, food, or any other product that you brought from your travels gets confiscated, then it’s for the best. To follow up, consider listening to LandHealth’s podcast episode, “The Tree of Heaven”!


“Spotted Lanternfly.” Department of Agriculture, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,

“Various Pests Found Inside Imported Flowers and Pineapples Intercepted at the San Juan Airport.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 3 Feb. 2011,

“JFK Airport CBP Catches Highly Invasive Giant African Snails in Man's Baggage.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 6 Apr. 2021,


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