If you receive seeds in the mail that you didn’t buy — or even ask for — don’t plant them! That message has been going out from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in recent days after several people in the state have received “unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China.” The suspicion of their origin is largely because of the writing on the packages.
Probably most unnerving of all is that Virginians aren’t the only ones who have been targeted by this in the past month. Utah’s Department of Agriculture has put out a similar warning this month, and gardeners in the United Kingdom have seen the strange packages showing up, too.
— Sarah Vogelsong (@SarahVogelsong) July 24, 2020
A common theme among the shipments is that the portions of the packages that were readable to English speakers mentioned something other than seeds — such as “earrings” or “petals.” These kinds of items that would be less likely to trigger Customs sensors.
It’s unclear how the targets were chosen to receive this latest round of seeds, but in the UK, it was determined that the packages were sent to customers who previously made legitimate seed purchases through sites such as Amazon and eBay.
The warning not to plant the seeds comes as concern for invasive species — both from plants and insects — is on the rise.
“Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations,” Virginia’s ag department said.