Something is out there. It hungers to ravage your garden, to topple your trees, to destroy farmers' crops and nursery plants.
Luckily, the members of the Horticultural Inspection Society are on the job. And they're converging on South Carolina to plan the counterattack in the ongoing war against plant pests.
The Southern chapter of the society meets in Greenville Sept. 9-11, bringing together officials from 13 states and Puerto Rico to discuss regional threats to the Southern plant industry.
"Our states face many of the same problems from diseases, insects and weeds," said Brad Cavin, an inspector for the Clemson University Department of Plant Industry and president of the chapter. "This is a chance to share expertise, knowledge, experience and training among plant pest inspectors."
The society's membership includes state inspectors and laboratory and field personnel who enforce laws and regulations to prevent the spread of plant pests and disease. They regulate the movement of plants among states, inspect plant nurseries and conduct efforts to eradicate pests and limit their spread.
The conference will include state-by-state briefings on the most pressing plant pest problems in the region. In-depth discussions will be held on such threats as cogongrass, an invasive weed that has spread across the South, and Phytophthora ramorum, the fungus-like organism that causes sudden oak death.
Clemson, which houses South Carolina's plant industry and pesticide regulatory agencies, is hosting the regional meeting, for which about 50 state plant-inspection officials are expected.