Pest Management & Prevention

The Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner's Office is actively involved in preventing invasive pests from becoming established in our agricultural lands and communities. The Agricultural Commissioner regulates the commercial and private transport of plants into and out of Santa Barbara County.  It is important that commercial operations and private citizens respect California's quarantine laws to prevent the introduction of exotic pests.  In addition, pest and disease information is gathered on a monthly basis by way of insect trapping and environmental monitoring for pest presence and populations. Santa Barbara County Department of Agriculture works in close cooperation with local production, wholesale, and retail nurseries to maintain high standards required by CDFA for California nursery stock.

Phytosanitary certificates are documents overseen by the USDA to ship agricultural goods around the globe.  Our department issues these certificates and conducts inspections allowing goods such as vegetables and cut flowers to be sold and shipped within and outside of the United States.  As of 2012, our local agriculture was valued at 1.3 billion dollars, providing a strong base for Santa Barbara County's economy.  Please follow the links below for further information and to help you with any questions you may have regarding plant quarantine, management and pest prevention.

Exclusion & Quarantine

Pest exclusion is the first line of defense against invasion by exotic pests.  The Agricultural Commissioner enforces all laws, rules and regulations relative to the prevention of the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that are potentially devastating to agricultural crops and livestock.  Incoming commercial and private shipments of plant material are subject to inspection for compliance with plant import regulations.  Infested or prohibited shipments are subject to regulatory action.  Descriptions of some pests of concern are available here.  Contact our office for more information.

Detection, Management & Trapping

Pest detection is the second line of defense against exotic pests becoming established. Regulatory actions or eradication projects may be conducted on incipient infestations.  Due to the constant movement of people, products and commercial shipments into the State of California, the risk for new insect pests to become established is very high.  Early detection of these pests is vitally important before they spread to urban or agricultural land.  These pests, once established, can cause much destruction especially in commodities such as fruits and vegetables rendering them inedible.  As a result, food prices can rise and farmers may have to use more pesticides to maintain food quality.  The Santa Barbara County Agriculture Commissioner's Office along with the California Department of Food and Agriculture place hundreds of insect traps throughout the entire county to aid in the early detection and control of these pests.  When feasible, the department works towards the long term biological control of newly introduced pests.
Project reports in pest detection and management are available online here .

Some examples of pests of concern are listed below:

Bees & Apiaries

Bee Swarms & Colonies - If you locate something that looks like a mass made of honey bees hanging from a branch, bush, fence or other surfaces, it's most likely a swarm that is passing through and chose to rest there for a while. Bees traveling in swarms typically leave within hours; although it is possible that they may stay a couple of days.  These bees are not very aggressive since they have no colony to defend.  However, if you see bees flying continuously in and out of a location (for example, a hole in the wall or tree trunk) this most likely indicates an established colony.  If a swarm or colony of bees is identified, a local beekeeper may be contacted to relocate the hive. The other option is to contact a licensed pest control company. We depend on managed bees and other pollinators to help produce many of our nation's agricultural products and to maintain a healthy environment.

To learn more, please go to the following websites:

If you are a beekeeper, please complete the information required in our apiary registration form.  Here, you will also find a section where you can be notified of certain pesticide applications that may be applied near the area of your colonies.


All wholesale and retail nurseries in Santa Barbara County must be licensed through the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Wholesale nurseries are inspected by our department every year to make sure the plants they sell meet the basic standard of cleanliness: no dead or dying plants, no exotic pests or diseases and evidence that common pests are under control. Retail nurseries are not inspected annually, but are held to the same standards. Contact any of our offices if you have a complaint about a nursery or if you have questions about this program.

CDFA has a directory that lists all the licensed nurseries and nursery stock dealers in California. Copies of this Directory are available to California licensed nurserymen at a cost of $5.00 per copy. Persons other than licensees may obtain a copy at a cost of $25.00. Both prices include handling and mailing costs. Please send your order requests to: Pest Exclusion/Nursery, Seed, and Cotton Program, 1220 N. Street, Room A-372, Sacramento, CA 95814 - (Make checks payable to: "CDFA 90054").

To view the CDFA Directory on-line, click here

The application form to become a licensed nursery can be found here

Seed Inspection

The Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner, in cooperation with CDFA, carries out most inspection and enforcement activities under the California Seed Law (Section 52288, California Food and Agricultural Code) to verify the accuracy and accessibility of seed label statements as to variety, type, purity, and germination of seed. Enforcement of the California Seed Law regarding marketing and labeling helps to ensure that consumers receive the desired end product.

Export Certification

Plant exports may require certification for freedom from insects and disease when shipped to certain states and countries. The receiving state or country may require certification according to state, federal or local standards.  Contact our office for information on other states' and countries' quarantine regulations.  A summary of states' regulations is viewable on the web site of the National Plant Board .  A look-up database of other countries' quarantine regulations is available here .

For more information, please visit our Phytosanitary Services main page