Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Hunt for Invasive Species Slogans 4th Edition - Mascots

We are developing a series of posts to highlight some of the more memorable and fun slogans on invasive species that you can find on publications, bumper stickers, and t-shirts. This series on invasive species slogans will include occasional posts covering different aspects of the topic. These slogans seem to fit into three broad categories: Play-off, Alliteration, and Rhyming.  This series has proven to be very popular so we are expanding it with this post on Invasive Species Mascots.

If you know of some slogans, invasive species illustrations or mascots that haven’t yet been posted in this series, please send them to rivertoriver@gmail.com.


Previous to this post, this series of invasive species slogans has focused more on the written aspect of slogans.  Now we want to shift our lens to zoom in on some great illustrations.  Mascots have long been used in advertising and marketing (think of the Pillsbury Doughboy for example).  The same has been true for conservation as well (Hello Smokey the Bear!).  Below are some highlights of mascots being used in invasive species outreach programs.  I've added in a few "not exactly mascots' at the end because I really liked them and needed to find a way to share them with everyone.

  The ‘not quite official’ State Seal of Virginia
h/t Tim Farmer

One of the best things about doing this series of invasive species slogans has been the emails and entries that I’ve received from folks across the country. This is perhaps my favorite of the bunch. I got an email from Tim Farmer down in Virginia with the official and ‘not quite official’ state seals for their great state. I’ll copy in Tim’s description here before showing you the seals

“Here at the State Arboretum of Virginia, Ailanthus is a real problem. So I modified the state seal to show the way we feel. The REAL state seal features a woman in a tunic ("Virtue") standing over a fallen tyrant, her foot on his chest. She is holding a spear in one hand and a sword in the other, with the words "Sic Semper Tyrannus" (Thus Always to Tyrants) beneath.

Our modified version has Virtue standing with her foot on a tree stump, with Ailanthus leaves on either side. She is holding a chain saw and a shovel, and the tag line reads "Sic Semper Ailanthus."

Doesn't she know you can't operate a chainsaw without the proper PPE?

Great work Tim! Consider this a challenge to all of you other states to see if you can modify your seals to top this.

Tropical Soda Apple, the Plant from Hell

That is one devilish plant

This is one mascot that a horror movie could be made about. That term “Plant from Hell” has been used on about 100 different invasive species, but the first time I heard it was for Tropical Soda Apple so, to me, this is the original demonic photosynthesizer. This mascot from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services really utilizes that nickname well. From the blood-red eyes to the flames licking up around the plant, this guy does look like he’s straight out of the fiery pit.

Didymo Monster

"Noone nose better than me to snot make fun of invasive species
but instead to cough up the location by reporting phlegm to the proper
authorities so that they can hack them out of the system and
blow away their chances to flu the coop and spread" - Anonymucus

This cartoon is right, Didymo, aka 'rock snot', is ‘snot’ a joke! This nasty aquatic invasive algae can be a terror on streams. As a somewhat avid fly fisherman, this is one I definitely do not want spreading around. I wish I knew the original source of this cartoon, I first saw it in a presentation on Didymo at an invasive species conference in Missouri. If you know the source, please let me know (rivertoriver@gmail.com) and I’ll be sure to give proper credit.

The Many Faces of Yellow Starthistle

Many of you likely know yellow starthistle as a serious invader of western rangelands. This plant is a major bad actor, but its appearance must just invite people to animate it. Over the years, I’ve ran across several different ‘versions’ of starthistle, each with their own personality.

The ‘Evil’ Starthistle

So that's how they outcompete the natives

These are a couple of screen shots from a YouTube video posted by the BLM. This version of starthistle is 100% pure evil and comes equipped with death ray eyes (and I thought the spiny bracts were bad enough)! The bloodshot eyes and Bart Simpson-like hair really do round out this starthistle as being the toughest on the block. This picture also has the honor of being the only slogan in this entire series that has earned a place up on my wall.

The “Sinister” Starthistle

To be truly sinister, this guy needs a pointy beard

If you’ve followed this series of posts, then you may recognize this picture as coming from the Forest Service’s ‘Give a Hoot, Gives Weed the Boot’ campaign that was posted about earlier. This version of the starthistle would make a great villain on a Saturday morning cartoon. Extra credit goes to the illustrator for utilizing spines for angry eyebrows!

The ‘Happy’ Starthistle

Don't let his looks fool you, this happy
little fellow is actually a terror

This fun drawing is by Gary Raymond from a delightful book titled “Weeds on the Move” by Donna and Shawna Vaughn. While the other caricatures of this invader aim to give off negative vibes, this one goes for more of a ‘pleasant’ tone. While there is definitely nothing pleasant about an infestation of starthistle, Gary’s drawings certainly do make this book a fun read.

Murry the Squirrel

I’ve got to admit, this one confused me quite a bit when I first looked at it. I didn’t know why Murry the Squirrel was stomping out invasive plants, but I was glad he was and was willing to help out! This comes out of Murrysville PA (hence the name Murry for our furry little plant stomper) and their Friends of Murrysville Parks. This pamphlet details information on a handful of invasive species and what can be done to manage them. Peppered throughout the trifold are pictures of Murry apparently distraught over invasives.   I really love it when local organzations or agencies take invasive species seriously and are willing to let people know about it.  Great work Murrysville!

Emmie the Emerald Ash Borer
h/t Jim Kirkland and Gae Morris

Becoming "Emmie" shows true dedication to outdoor education!

This great mascot was an invention of the Illinois Forest Resource Center to be used during Stewardship Week, which is a huge event to teach thousands of school children about many different aspects of stewardship and conservation (on a side note, I’ve been honored to take part in this event now for the past five years). Emmie has been partnering with mere humans to teach kids about the threat of Emerald Ash Borer and why they need to “Burn It Where You Buy It”.  I remember sitting beside Emmie the Emerald Ash Borer at lunch during Stewardship Week and while yes they are very fond of Ash Trees, I can say conclusively that emerald ash borers also take a liking to BBQ sandwiches!

Vin Vasive

Words cannot described how freaked out I am by this picture

This is one mascot that gives me nightmares. Vin Vasive is the spokesperson (can you call a compilation of insects formed into a human shape a person?) for hungrypests.com, a USDA-APHIS website. If the USDA-APHIS was aiming to scare people into worrying about invasive pests, then they succeeded!

Commander Ben, Invasive Hunter

Ben, on the attack

While not technically a ‘mascot’, Commander Ben has developed into a great champion for invasive species. His videos, interviews, and articles on his website - http://commanderben.com/, are wonderful and very entertaining. He’s been getting some much deserved attention for his efforts. Keep it up Ben!  From his website, here is a cartoon of Ben from the cover of Science Weekly.

Ben's battles making the cover of Science Weekly

"Little MO", The New Zealand Mudsnail

Hey, that is not where a snail's eyes are located?

This little mascot comes from a great kids’ website from the Illinois-Indiana Seagrant about Nabbing Aquatic Invaders - http://www.iiseagrant.org/NabInvader/index.html. There are so many great things on this website, it was hard to choose just one to highlight. One of my favorites was ‘Little MO’. This snail just looks like trouble. I especially like the little ‘NZ’ sticker on his shell! Please check this website out, I especially appreciated the ‘Car Talk Credits- like’ names of the officers. I think it is just great that the officer for the Gulf is named “Louie Z Anna”!

The “Not Exactly Mascots” Section

h/t Teresa Grout

I really do wish I was creative enough to come up with as cool as an acronym as this

I know this one isn’t a mascot but I wanted to include it here. This is perhaps the best acronym I’ve ever seen. The “Rapid Response Invasive Plant Intervention Team of the UP” Or RRIP-IT-UP comes to us from the Upper Peninsula Conservation & Development Area, Inc. This response team manages a lot of garlic mustard by, you guessed it, ripping it up!

CactoBlastis or Cacto Blast Us?
h/t Joel Floyd

A beautiful drawing of an ugly problem

Here’s another great illustration that was sent to me. Joel Floyd, with USDA-APHIS, designed this for use on a T-shirt for the Cactoblastis program. If you know about this moth, it has been used as a biocontrol for invasive prickly pear in parts of the world, but has spread to the southeast United States and is attacking out native prickly pear species. Aphis has been leading the charge on the management of this insect, including coming up with great T-shirt designs.

Garlic Mustard Wine
h/t Troy Evans
Mmmm, tasty

Yes, you read that correctly, Garlic Mustard wine. I can think of few plants less appropriate to make wine from than Garlic Mustard. Seriously, maybe poison ivy or jimsonweed wine would be worse but it is debatable. I do however really like their slogan “Eliminating Invasive Plants one bottle at a time”. I think this bottle has remained firmly unopened for fear of what’s inside. If you’ve ever tried such a concoction, please let me know what it tasted like (and please do not offer to share it with me!). Just a quick note, if this posts gets back to the folks that actually produce this Garlic Mustard wine, my sincere apologies for disparaging your product but, honestly, you had it coming!

What was originally meant to be a 3-part series has now been expanded to at least four.  This 'Mascot' edition has probably been my favorite one to make so far.  I keep getting impressed with the creativity and talent on display with these slogans and illustrations and, best of all, they are  all for a good cause - increasing awareness about invasive species.  So, to all of you conservationists out there, I say keep up the good work and please do use your talents to bring some humor and entertainment into a field that is honestly often somewhat depressing.
Please do check out the other entries in this series on Play-off, Alliteration, and Rhyming and all of the FUN posts we've put up on this blog.  I am predicting that this will not be the last post in this series, as new slogans and illustrations are being made every day.  As always, if you see something that you think would be good to include, please send it to me at rivertoriver@gmail.com. To follow the Illinois ISAM news blog, 'like' us at www.facebook.com/illinoisisam.

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