Kentucky Office of the State Entomologist

Alert! Unsolicited Seed Packets

What we ask for you to do (as of July 28, 2020)

If you or anyone that you know, received one or more unsolicited seed packets - please do NOT open or plant any of those seeds! Instead please send the seed and the packaging to the USDA office in Burlington, Kentucky.

To do so, please fill out the Unsolicited Foreign Seeds Form and mail it along with the unsolicited seed and packaging to the address listed on the form. With your help, USDA is trying to piece together all the information they can to determine the reason behind the shipments. Any information you provide is greatly appreciated!

We have developed a FAQ page to help answer any questions you may have. Please let others know about this and how they can help if they have received unsolicited foreign seed packets! Thank you for your help!l

Alert! Unsolicited Foreign Seeds FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (as of July 31, 2020)

I received seeds that I did not order, can I plant them?

We are asking that anyone who receives seeds that they did not order to not plant the seeds.

I recently received seeds that I did not order, what should I do?
We are asking residents of Kentucky to mail the seeds and the envelope to the USDA office in Northern Kentucky. They are collecting the seeds and forwarding them to a national diagnostic lab. The address and other information is on the Unsolicited Foreign Seed Form.

I live outside of Kentucky. Who should I contact?
Visit the National Plant Board website to find your appropriate state contact.

I have ordered seeds online (through Amazon or other vendor) in the past, is this cause for alarm?
Not necessarily, however we do strongly encourage everyone to make sure the seeds they are purchasing come from a reputable vendor. Online purchases of plants, seeds, and other plant products can be risky because these items can carry a range of invasive pests and plant diseases that are not currently in the U.S. These purchases can also be illegal without proper inspections and paperwork, such as permits or plant health certificates.

Why am I receiving seeds that I did not order?
Although the investigation is still ongoing, the early thought is this is a “brushing” scam. This is where sellers send unsolicited items to unsuspecting consumers and then post false reviews to boost sales.

Why does the envelope say the contents inside the package are things like jewelry instead of seeds?
Seeds are subject to inspection at U.S. ports of entry while other items may not require an inspection.

I have already planted the seeds before I knew this was a problem. What should I do now?
Please contact Joe Collins who can walk you through the necessary steps. 859.218.3341

Is there any dangerous substance on the seeds that can make me sick?
There does NOT appear to be anything nefarious on the seeds however out of an abundance of caution, we are recommending that people do not open the pouch of seeds. Wash your hands thoroughly after placing the seeds in the envelope to mail to the USDA office in Northern Kentucky.

Is there anything I can do to keep from getting more seeds that I did not order?
The USDA strongly recommends that consumers who have purchased seeds via internet platforms (Amazon or others) to change their password.

Alert! Boxwood Blight

What we ask for you to do (as of March 9, 2018)

At the request of the production nurseries of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture has implemented a boxwood blight quarantine that will become effective February 4, 2018. This WILL impact any KY nurseries that ship boxwoods to TN.

There are several steps that KY nurseries will need to take before they can resume shipments to TN. First, they will need to become enrolled in a boxwood blight cleanliness program which will be administered through the State Entomologist's Office. This program is aimed at prevention of the disease and is based upon 6 key steps: exclusion, water management, sanitation, inspection, training and recordkeeping. The next step is that each load of boxwoods going to TN will require a state phytosanitary certificate which is also issued by the State Entomologist's Office. Currently there is no charge for these certificates.

This quarantine applies to all boxwoods (container, B&B, liners, plugs etc). KY nurseries that ship boxwoods to TN should contact Joe Collins (joe.collins@uky.edu or 859.218.3341) for more information. It is important to not wait until the last minute to finalize all the details. The boxwood blight cleanliness program will require a site visit by an inspector prior to enrolling in the program and state phytosanitary certificates may require several days to generate.

Alert! Areas Outside of Kentucky Under Quarantine

What we ask for you to do (as of January 3, 2018)

There are areas outside of Kentucky that are quarantined for Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, Gypsy Moth, Thousand Cankers Disease (Walnut Twig Beetle), and other pests.

Find if your state or local area has a quarantine in place for any pests of concern for the United States.


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Page Last Updated: October 14, 2020

Kentucky Office of the State Entomologist