Invasive pests cost the United States an estimated $130 billion in damage and preventative measures every year, and information is the best defense.

The Arkansas Forest Resources Center has just launched a website, www.ARInvasives.org, dedicated to managing these destructive pests of our forests.

Examples of destructive invasives already in Arkansas include the red imported fire ant, kudzu and gypsy moths.

“We have two primary goals with this web site,” said Jon Barry, an Extension forester for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “First, we want to make people more aware of the problems caused by invasive pests. That $130 billion a year estimate is growing as old pests spread and new pests arrive.”

Managing these pests starts with being able to identify the pests, know the damage they can do, and what can be done to halt their spread.

“If invasive pests bug you, use this website as a resource to learn more about them,” Barry said.

The second goal for the website “is to recruit and train qualified people who can serve as an early warning system for invasive pests in Arkansas. If you work in the fields and forests of Arkansas and would like to serve as a field spotter, please watch this web site for announcements about training opportunities. Arkansas needs you.”

The site launched Oct. 1.

“ARInvasives.org is focused on six forest invasive pests that may threaten Arkansas in the future, but also includes information about invasive pests already in Arkansas,” Barry said. “We will be continually updating the web site and adding new information and new invasive pests, so drop by often and see what is new.”

For more information about the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, visit http://www.afrc.uamont.edu/ or contact your county Extension office.