Plant Industry - Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS)

CAPS logo

What is CAPS?

The Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) program oversees early detection surveys for invasive plant pests that pose a threat to North Carolina’s agricultural, nursery, and forest industries, and may threaten our environment as a whole (see CAPS commodity survey list). These surveys offer two main benefits to North Carolina:

  1. Early detection gives the best chance for rapid response to eliminate an introduced pest threat before it can cause widespread damage.
  2. Any negative survey data can be referenced on export documents for producers shipping plant material to a receiving state or country concerned with a given pest.

CAPS operates under cooperative agreements between USDA-APHIS and all U.S. states and territories. These science-based surveys completed by the CAPS community are done with the intent of detecting new, exotic invasive plant pests as early as possible. Such surveys look for insects, diseases, weeds, nematodes and other invertebrates including mollusks. These surveillance efforts may hold national or state importance depending on what is being surveyed for.

How are surveys chosen?

With the increasing speed and frequency of global trade and travel, unintended pest introductions are also on the rise, and our knowledge of invasive species is always growing. An independent group of researchers analyzes pests from around the world through the Objective Pest Evaluation & Prioritization process. Pests that receive high risk grades are put onto the National Priority Pest List, which is revised each year by USDA-APHIS. (Learn more about the OPEP and NPPL process here).

To select state surveys, the North Carolina CAPS committee meets every year to discuss and define the next year’s survey priorities based on pests on the NPPL, and any other emerging pest issues of state concern. The core members of the NC CAPS Committee consist of the State Survey Coordinator (NCDA&CS), State Plant Regulatory Official (NCDA&CS), State Plant Health Director (USDA), and Pest Survey Specialist (USDA). Other participants are invited to join this committee based on their area of expertise to help with guidance for survey direction. Click here to see the current CAPS commodity survey list.

How Can I Help?

We encourage the public to contact North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), Plant Industry Division if they suspect exotic plant pests at 1-800-206-9333 or by emailing us at For additional information about the CAPS program, please contact the State Survey Coordinator at (919) 707-3749 or by email at

North Carolina CAPS Partners

The North Carolina CAPS program is surrounded by talented people, programs and groups each doing their part to help protect both agriculture and the environment here in North Carolina. The three main areas of survey interest are insects, diseases and weeds.

Many of our exotic pest threats are insects. There are several invasive insects that are monitored and regulated by our division. For more information about these harmful pests please visit our entomological programs site. Common pests found in our state or region can frequently be mistaken for exotics. The North Carolina Forest Service and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service describe many of these in good detail.

There are many diseases that affect or the potential to affect North Carolina. Some diseases require vectors or secondary hosts to complete their lifecycle. A list and information regarding, permits, regulated diseases and certifications can be found at our division’s plant pathology site.

The North Carolina Forest service has good information about invasive plants present in NC. In addition, our state noxious weed regulations and a list of North Carolina noxious weeds are also good sources of information provided by our weed specialist.

If you are looking for a pest that is not listed by any of our programs, please contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office.


Useful Links

CAPS Homepage

Pest Tracker

National Plant Board


NCSU Plant Disease and Insect Clinic
NCSU Cooperative Extension
NC Forest Service


For Additional Information Contact:
Amy Michael - Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Coordinator
Email Address:
Phone: (919) 707-3749
Fax: (919) 733-1041