This Holiday Season, Remember: Don’t Pack a Pest!

Hands zipping up a bag

The holidays are a time for traveling and sending gifts, which means it’s also time to make sure you’re not carrying or shipping something that nobody wants — a pest!

The truth is, the gifts you send and receive could be hiding dangerous, hitchhiking pests or plant diseases that could wreak havoc on our local agricultural industry and our environment.

That homemade fruit basket could have mealy bugs. There could be gypsy moth eggs hidden in that wreath you got from grandma’s house, whiteflies in those hand-picked poinsettias, or a dangerous plant virus in the citrus you picked from the backyard.

So remember. Don’t pack a pest!

Every year San Diego County’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures inspectors — human and detector dogs — work hard to keep out invasive pests like the goldspotted oak borer, light brown apple month, Asian citrus psyllid and South American palm weevil.

How can you help?

Here are some simple guidelines:

Don’t Pack a Pest

  • If you’re traveling — whether it’s out of state or out of the country — leave whatever you find on your trip right where you found it. Don’t bring home a keepsake clipping from Aunt Penny’s holiday wreath, or those bulbs you found in Florida, any citrus branches, leaves or stems from anywhere, or avocado leaves from Mexico.
  • Don’t transport any fresh, raw, uncooked, untreated foodstuffs. Same for seeds, beans, nuts, rice, dried fruit, decorative greenery, untreated wood items, animal products or soil from almost any foreign country.
  • If you are traveling and think you may have accidentally packed some plant or animal item away, declare those products when you’re asked by an agricultural inspector if you have anything in your luggage.

For more information about dangerous insects, plant diseases, and Agriculture, Weights and Measures — and everyone’s — role in protecting our local environment and agriculture, visit the department’s Insect and Plant Disease Information webpage.

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact