Woman who got mysterious seeds in the mail says she already planted them

Updated: Jul. 29, 2020 at 9:46 PM CDT
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BERWICK, La. (WAFB) - Tonight on 9News at 10, WAFB’s Lester Duhé is looking into those mysterious seeds, apparently from China, that have been showing up in some people’s mailboxes.

State officials are urging anyone who may get these seeds to let the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) know about them, and to not open the bags.

It’s unknown exactly what they are, and if they could potentially cause harm to plants and/or livestock in the state.

LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM says his department has received more than 300 calls from people across Louisiana who have received the mysterious packs of seeds, and he expects that number to grow.

“If you see that you have a packet of seeds, do not open them. Please do not open them and do not plant them,” said Strain.

People across Louisiana and the U.S. are scrambling to figure out whether these mysterious packages of seeds could possibly be dangerous, or just a scam.

“The packets we have picked up so far are coming predominantly from China, but also Uzbekistan, Solomon Islands, areas of Russia. Most of them say earbuds, jewelry, earrings, and one said garden supplies,” said Strain.

“We didn’t think anything of it. The first ones [seeds] we planted,” said Shelley Aucoin.

Aucoin lives in Berwick, and first received the mysterious seeds in her mailbox sometime in May.

“I want people to know I ordered seeds from Amazon that’s why I planted them,” said Aucoin.

She planted those in a separate pot, but then she got another surprise. 

“Last week or week before, we got another pack, with two packs [of seeds] in it. Then we saw the post saying don’t plant them. I mean, I’m not scared about it, I’m not worried about it, but I guess people are,” said Aucoin.

Strain says they’re working with federal authorities like the USDA to identify what type of seeds these are, whether they could harm crops or livestock, or if they could be harboring any infectious diseases or insects.

If you’ve already planted the seeds like Aucoin did, LDAF has some advice for you.

“As soon as they come up, I recommend those plants be killed. Use some type of herbicide, spray them, and if anything comes back, spray it. Anything you do, do not let those plants grow. The risk is too great,” said Strain.

There are reports circulating that this is just a marketing scheme called a “brushing scam.” The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of South Central Louisiana has been getting calls on the topic as well and has some tips.

“And what they’re telling you basically is not to throw the seeds away if you receive it, don’t plant them, but contact your department of agriculture before you take any steps or decide to dispose of them,” said Carmen Million, president and CEO of the BBB of South Central Louisiana.

“Again, if you do touch any of this, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and put these seeds in a sealed baggy and give us a call. But the bottom line is please don’t open these packets,” said Strain.

Again, Strain and the LDAF are urging caution simply because it’s not yet known if these seeds could be harmful. If you receive seeds in the mail that you didn’t order or that you don’t recognize, contact LDAF, and they will come pick up the seeds from your home.

Call 225-925-4733 or email seed@ldaf.state.la.us.

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