What is the Pathways Survey?

The Pathways Survey for early Detection of New and Emerging Pests monitors for invasive pests and pathogens in our local agriculture through a combination of pheromone-baited insect trapping and visual inspection. Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) staff visit survey sites biweekly throughout each growing season to monitor for pests and pathogens and interact with growers. The Pathways Survey was first conducted in 2014 and has been repeated each year since. Funding for this multi-organism, early detection survey comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Bill.

Who is Involved?

The survey is conducted at community gardens, community supported agriculture (CSA) farms, small immigrant farms, orchards, vineyards and berry farms across Minnesota in both urban and rural areas. Emphasis is placed on population centers, where new pests are likely to be introduced due to the number of pathways by which invasive species can be moved by humans.

How is the Survey Conducted?

The MDA works with the USDA and the University of Minnesota (U of M) to identify insects and pathogens that might pose the greatest risk to Minnesota agriculture. Pests are assessed using criteria such as the following:

  • Likelihood of introduction in the near future
  • Host prevalence within Minnesota’s agricultural crops and natural ecosystem
  • Climactic suitability and cold hardiness

Each year, the list of target species that are monitored for in the Pathways survey is revised as new information becomes available. Pheromone-baited traps and visual inspections are used to monitor for insect species, insect life stages, and host damage. Plants are also inspected for symptoms of plant diseases, and tissue samples are removed from plants showing symptoms of target pathogens for diagnostic lab testing.

What happens after a detection?

Not all pests pose the same level of threat to Minnesota agriculture; as such, when a pest is found our response varies.

  • Some pests are not regulated. If we find pests that are not regulated, we focus on education and outreach to growers about the pest(s) of concern.
  • Some pests are regulated, either locally or federally. If we find pests that are regulated, a number of things could happen, including:
    • Restrictions on the movement of plants and goods
    • Limitations on exports
    • Efforts to control and/or eradicate the pest(s)

In addition to education, outreach, and potential regulatory consequences upon finding a new pest, the MDA also works to track pests after they have arrived in Minnesota to determine their spread and scope within the state.

How to Help

The Pathways survey allows for meaningful interaction between growers, the public, and the MDA in regards to invasive species. It is our hope that the survey will continue to facilitate a partnership with the community to protect our local agriculture systems. Additionally, an early detection of a new pest provides the best opportunity for mitigating its impact on our state.

If you suspect any new pests in your garden or would like results from previous years surveys, visit the MDA's Arrest the Pest page for information on reporting invasive pests. Keep track of invasive species threatening Minnesota