A new online directory of visuals to help identify invasive agricultural pests is now available through the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST).

The directory includes links to information and photos about heartwater, an acute tickborne disease that is a concern for ranchers in Florida.

The council also recently released a scientific paper that provides several steps to prioritizing the control of non-native pests, which are the source of an estimated $137 billion annual economic burden to the U.S., according to CAST.

The potential for additional invasions of beetles, blights, ticks, viruses and other pests is a serious threat, and the USDA is seeking a $2 million increase for its 2003 budget for efforts to exclude and control these species.

According to the paper, approximately 6,000 known insect species, 51 animal pathogens and 2,000 plant pathogens are recognized as established pests in other countries. Among the pests cited in the paper are screwworm, cattle fever ticks and heartwater, all of which can affect cattle.

The complete paper, which is titled “Invasive Species: Impacts on Agricultural Production, Natural Resources, and the Environment,” and the resource listing of invasive species visuals are available at www.cast-science.org.