CC BY-SA 2.0 Credit: NOAA

Green Tips: Combating Invasive Species

Green Tips | June 2, 2021

Invasive Species Awareness Week is here!

According to the National Wildlife Federation, an invasive species is defined as “any kind of living organism … that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm.” Basically, this means any organism which is introduced to an area outside of its native range and then has a negative impact on that area. Often, invasive species are accidentally spread by human activity, such as on ships or through escaping an ornamental garden.

So what makes an invasive species harmful? Outside of their native range, invasive species do not have any natural predators or controls. Additionally, native species may not have evolved defenses against some invasive predators. As a result, invasive species can become predators of native species, hinder their reproduction, out-compete them for resources, and cause or carry disease.

Because of all these harmful effects, it is important for us to control invasive species and prevent their spread. By taking just a few simple steps, we can protect wildlife and our ecosystem:

  • Become aware of the invasive species present in your area. Learning to identify invasive species will help you remove and/or report them if you come across any.
    • The DEC has recently released a new interactive map which allows you to easily identify which invasives are prevalent in your area. The map also features instructions for reporting sightings of invasive species.
  • Clean, drain, and dry watercraft and equipment.
    • Clean fishing tackle
    • Clean aquatic vegetation from rudders
    • Disinfect the hulls and water compartments of boats
    • Correctly dispose of bait
  • Clean (spray and wipe) hiking and fishing gear, and properly dispose of any plant material.
  • When outdoors, wear outer layers which do not pick up and transport seeds.
  • Remove seeds from clothing both before and after you go outdoors. Clean deep treaded footwear. Properly dispose of any plant material. Do not clean near waterways.
  • Use native bait when fishing.
  • Volunteer at invasive species removal events. The New York City Parks Department also has a wonderful program called the Super Steward Program.
  • Do NOT buy exotic plants.
  • Do NOT release plants or animals from your aquarium into the wild.
  • Plant your garden/yard with native species. Use only seed mixes with exclusively native plants.
  • Weed out any known invasive species from your property (including your garden). After removal, follow these guidelines.
  • Before traveling, examine your belongings to make sure you are not carrying any pests with you. 
  • Educate others on invasive species and the threats they pose.
  • Track the spread of invasive species by reporting them.
    • allows you to report invasive species from anywhere in the state. The data you input can be used to influence conservation priorities and address the areas which need the most work.

If you’re looking to specifically eradicate or manage the invasive Japanese knotweed, please click here to the virtual event we held in January 2021 in partnership with Friends of the Upper Delaware River, Penn State’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, and Shippensburg University’s Center for Land Use and Sustainability. The webinar covered how to identify knotweed, the impact of knotweed overgrowth, and how to manage, control, or even eradicate knotweed.

Thank you for reading this week’s Green Tips! Stay tuned for more posts in the future.

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