New set of short videos available to help prevent spread of garden pests and diseases

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A new set of short online videos is providing another tool to backyard gardeners and small-scale farmers for fighting back against pests and diseases.

Sharing cuttings and seedlings is a beloved and longstanding practice, but sharing comes with risk. What begins as a pleasant exchange can become a long-term headache as ants, scale insects, slug eggs, fungi and other pests stealthily hitchhike into well-maintained gardens.

Photo courtesy of the Big Island Invasive Species Committee.

“We know that the No. 1 pathway for pests coming into the islands is live plants and plant materials,” said Molly Murphy, a specialist with the Plant Pono program. “The same is true for our backyards — as home gardeners, we should all be doing our best to stop pests from moving through our communities.”

The University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources recently joined forces with the Big Island Invasive Species Committee to create the short videos aimed at supporting resident growers. The videos offer practical, step-by-step instructions for creating home garden quarantine stations and best practices to avoid spreading pests, disease and invasive species when exchanging plants and seeds.


Topics covered include proper methods for sharing sweet potato, recognizing banana bunchy top virus and disposal of different kinds of contaminated plant materials. Local growers also are featured in the videos, including Sean Jennings, founder of the popular Homesteadin’ Hawai‘i Facebook group; Zoe Kosmas and Brayden Jadulang with Māla‘ai; and Ka‘iana Runnels of The Kohala Center.

Murphy said the Big Island Invasive Species Committee and College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources provide resources for controlling pests when they are detected, but advised that all residents who engage in plant sharing should take the time to learn about home biosecurity.

The videos and other resources for avoiding invasive species can be found on the Plant Pono website, which is managed by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee.



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