The pests are dragged to Germany in hiking boots
Global trade and long-distance travel also mean risks. Scientists show how the simplest things can cause great harm. Especially for hikers, there is a piece of advice before heading home.
SAccording to experts, increasing international trade and tourism are increasing the risk of dangerous pests for the local flora. This is what the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) in Braunschweig points out on the international day of plant health this Friday.
As the JKI scientist Katrin Kaminski explains, significantly more shipments in intra-European trade have been traced in recent years because they came from places with outbreaks of harmful organisms and were suspected of being infested.
It can be assumed that the number of unauthorized and uncontrolled herbal souvenirs brought back from long-distance journeys will increase with the number of travellers. “Plants and fruit are regularly confiscated during passenger checks at airports,” said the graduate agricultural engineer JKI Institute for national and international plant health matters. However, only random checks could be carried out, so that the absolute quantity of the pests introduced in this way is not exactly known.
The Braunschweig facility wants to prevent dangerous harmful organisms from being introduced. If this does happen, the scientists help to take effective measures to eradicate or limit the infestation. But the topic has a direct connection to many people. “Because if you order plants on the Internet or come home from a long-distance vacation, you can unknowingly contribute to the spread of such harmful organisms,” says Kaminski.
The institute describes simple transmission routes: If someone walks over infected ground, it is possible to drag the animals along in the profile of their hiking boots and, in the worst case, to transmit them at home on the next hike. Thorough shoe cleaning should therefore be done before the return journey. “For similar reasons, you are not allowed to bring home fruit, vegetables or plants from abroad,” says Kaminski.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture cites the spotted lantern bearer cicada as a negative example. Originally from Southeast Asia cicada have a very high potential for damage, since in addition to fruit trees they also damage vines, hop and various tree species and multiply very quickly. In the USA and South Korea, the pretty but dangerous insect causes very high damage.
“We could save a lot of damage to agriculture and forestry as well as to our nature and native biodiversity if we managed to prevent immigration to Europe and Germany,” the ministry said.
As an example, the JKI refers to the spotted wing drosophila, which according to the institute was found in Germany in 2011 and has since spread widely. This can hardly be controlled because the insect species can cope well with the climate and can spread quickly by itself. One consequence is that orchards are netted to protect orchards.