Rooting Out Intruders: National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Rooting Out Intruders: National Invasive Species Awareness Week

All plants are good plants, right? Not necessarily!

Did you know that there are at least 23* invasive plant species alone in New York State? Across varies organisms there are at least 50* invasive species in New York State! February 26th – March 3rd, 2024 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week which is put in place to raise awareness of species that are found local to you and what you can do to combat their destructive population numbers. 

During my undergraduate years at Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania there was a PSA sent out about the surge of an invasive species, the Spotted Lanternfly. This insect is native to China but made its way to North America in 2014. You soon began to see them everywhere! The USDA put out information on them and instructed anyone who finds these bugs should squash them. You may be thinking, they are just little bugs, what harm can they do? Well being an invasive species they completely throw off the ecosystem they enter, especially when their numbers get out of control. They began to “feed on a wide range of crops and plants, including grapes, apples, hops, walnuts and hardwood trees**” and in doing so they leave “behind a sticky, sugary residue called honeydew that attracts other insects and promotes sooty mold growth which can further damage the plant.**” So not only do they begin to harm needed plants and crops, they diminish food supply for other native species, and grow at an exponential rate since they have no natural predators which in turn expedites the harm to the ecosystem.

As students we were constantly on the lookout for Spotted Lanternflies and squished all that we could. Though it may seem cruel, it is a needed regulation. In many ways if matters were not corrected then it could transition to a complete destruction of an ecosystem affecting organisms large and small. That includes us! 

Oftentimes when someone hears the word conservation their mind immediately jumps to a species where their population needs to be restored like the rhinos, elephants, or coral reefs but conservation also means maintaining a balanced ecosystem. This also relates to the need to control a population that is growing at a dangerously alarming rate. Visit https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/resources-location to learn about what invasive species to be on the lookout for in your area!

Have a topic of interest? Let us know in the comment section below!

*https://nyis.info/species/

**https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/sa_insects/slf

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