5 Ways You Can Fight Back Against Invasive Species

Invasive species are a huge economic issue, costing the US alone $120 billion per year due to the damage they inflict on plants, property, and other native species. As a homeowner it can seem overwhelming to think about fighting back.  Invasives often have few to no natural predators, and may not respond to more earth friendly forms of control.  So, what can you do?

A lot, actually! Here are 5 ways you can fight back.

Get To Know Your Local Invaders

The first line of defense is to know who you're fighting.  Visit your local botanical garden or Master Gardener program and ask them which plants and animals are a problem.  Stop by your local library and look up books on invasive species in your state, city, or town.  Or, do a quick google search.

The more information you have, and the more accurate that information is, the better prepared you are to fight back!

Plant This, Not That

Many botanical gardens now offer "Plant This, Not That" lists.  Generally, these are native plants they recommend using instead of certain well known non-native ornamentals.  Sometimes these lists will also include information on popular ornamental plants that are actually very invasive.  Remember: just because it's sold in a nursery or garden center doesn't mean it's an eco-friendly plant!

Participate in Citizen Science

Citizen science projects are a wonderful way to take action against invasives, and often you can participate on your own schedule! Many of these projects involve observing and reporting the birds, bugs, and plants you see in your yard or your community.  These reports provide a detailed picture of a community, and can help decision makers.

The National Geographic Society published this great list that you can use to discover the citizen science project that interests you!  

Buy Your Firewood Where You Burn It

When you transport firewood, you may also transport insects, and some of those insects might be invasives.  That's why it is so, so important to buy your firewood where you plan to use it.  Don't transport it across state lines or towns, don't bring it from home (or bring it back home) when you go on vacation.  

Seriously, an invasive can spread and do a lot of damage this way! For example the Emerald Ash Borer is causing major havoc across several states in the US, and has been able to spread so far, in part, due to hiding out in transported firewood.

Monitor and Report

If you notice an invasive plant or animal, and in particular if you notice A LOT of it, your town or city or state or country may want you to report on it.  Just like citizen science, the reports can provide a larger, clearer picture, and give decision makers better data to go off of. 

Are invasives a problem where you live? Tell us about them in the comments!