Mysterious seed packets from China have been arriving unsolicited in mailboxes all over the nation, including in Northwest Georgia.
Kellie Wilson at the University of Georgia Walker County Extension Office said the office has received calls from citizens who received unsolicited seeds.
A Catoosa County Government Facebook post from July 28 advises citizens who receive such packages to not open the packages or plant the seeds. Instead, they are asked to mail them to the Georgia Department of Agriculture at 1109 Experiment St., Redding Building Room 215, Griffin, GA 30223.
A release from the Georgia Department of Agriculture said it is unknown what types of seeds are in the packages, which may have Chinese lettering on their exteriors, and citizens are warned to not touch the seeds and to put the package in a plastic bag.
The seeds may be an invasive species, which can displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops, the release said.
The USDA, various stage agriculture departments and the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are working together to investigate what the seeds are, said Julia Willingham, UGA Agriculture and Natural Resources Catoosa County Extension agent.
"It's really important to report these seeds so they have more information to figure out what's going on," she said. "They currently think that it's probably just a big prank, but we don't know, so I think the biggest goal for all of the divisions of agriculture is to make sure that people are aware why they shouldn't plant [unknown] species.
"I know people are curious about what these things are, but it's really important that they do not plant them or just throw them out in their yard or add them to their bird seed or flush them down the toilet — anything that would get them out into the environment — because invasive pests really do wreak havoc on our environment and our ecosystem and it can cost a lot of money and time and effort for us to mitigate a problem. If we can prevent something like that from happening, it's much better for everybody long-term."
Wilson said citizens who receive unsolicited seed packages should call the Georgia Department of Agriculture Seed Lab at 229-386-3145 or email SeedLab@agr.georgia.gov.
Contact Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6508. Follow her on Twitter @emcrisman.