Invasive species are a national ecological threat to the outdoor places we love; from our backyards to where we hike, camp, fish, hunt, and enjoy. Feb. 26 through March 2 marks National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and all around the country activities to inform the public about invasive species and help protect our environment are taking place.
What is an invasive species? Invasive species can be plants, insects, or animals. They are introduced, non-native species that thrive in areas beyond their natural range. Not all non-natives are invasive. The rapid rate of spread, ability to reproduce in new areas without assistance, as well as the extent of environmental impact helps determine if a non-native species is invasive. Many people have probably seen the rampant growth of Japanese knotweed along our rivers, or the non-native invasive honeysuckles shrubs and buckthorns taking over in our forests. Other invasive plants, such as Japanese stiltgrass and goat’s rue, aren’t always so obvious on the landscape, but they are here and have real potential to spread and harm the environment.