Last year the Port of Seattle handled 16,761,088 metric tons of containerized cargo as it arrived and departed to ports around the globe. One-hundred seventy-three miles down I-5, the Port of Portland handled 13,379,403 metric tons of cargo on its piers. Those are some staggering numbers and for those with a case of arithmophobia, you may want to sit down now.

You are probably wondering why do the Sprague Pest Experts know how many metric tons of cargo come in and out through these two major West Coast ports? Aside from our secret love of mathematical equations, the Sprague Pest Experts stand tall on the docks as the first wall of defense against hazardous, destructive invasive pests.

Invasive pests are not the first thing most people think of when they see a container being brought up from below deck or grain coming off an unloading machines. They usually wonder what’s in that container and where is it headed?

The Sprague Pest Experts, however, wonder: what invasive pests might be in that container or storage hold that could threaten our customers and consumers?

What is an invasive pest? The National Invasive Species Council defines invasive species as: species that are non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health. Invasive species can be plants, animals, or pathogens.

As the name suggests, invasive species “invade” their new surrounding and can cause serious structural damage, threaten public health and be a serious detriment to plants, trees and other wildlife and insect species. According to the NISC, invasive species cause $74 billion worth of damage and food spoilage annually.

Sprague’s veteran Director of Technical Services & Training Jeff Weier, B.C.E., recently spoke at the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials’ (ASPCRO) annual meeting in Seattle, on what the professional pest management industry is are doing to safeguard points of entry from invasive species.

“The key to preventing invasive species from becoming a problem is to know what type of pest you are dealing with and to eliminate it before it can get out,” said Weier, whose trained eye and experienced hand designs pest management programs for invasive pest entry “hot spots” including shipping containers, airplanes, warehouses and storage facilities, and rail cars.

What types of invasive species travel in wood shipping pallets, boxes, tires and in bulk commodities like fruit, wheat, barley and rice? Some of the most common (or should we say notorious) invasive pest species include:
Wood Boring Beetles – The Asian long-horned beetle is one the main culprits and usually arrives in solid wood packing material.

  • Flour Beetle – A destructive pest that spoils the wheat and other grain shipments in which it travels.

  • Asian Tiger Mosquito – Arrives in shipments of used car and truck tires where standing water is present.

  • Emerald Ash Borer – Ditto the arrival method of the wood boring beetle. These destructive pests are the cause behind millions of ash trees having to be cut down.

Sprague is always available to answer your questions on how best to manage invasive pests. Feel free to send us an e-mail at with your comments or questions. We’ll be happy to get back with you with an answer.
Until we chat again, remember Sprague is your solution for pests.


The Sprague Pest Experts