Friday, June 21, 2013

Reposted article - Are Invasive Plants Really A Problem In Missouri???

Here is an article from our neighbors to the west.  Tim Banek, Invasive Species Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation wrote this article, are we are posting here with Tim's permission.

Are Invasive Plants Really A Problem In Missouri???
Tim Banek, MDC

Let’s start with the definition of an invasive species.   The National Invasive Species Council defines an invasive species as: “A species that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”     Does that mean all non-native plants are bad?  Certainly not, in fact a very small percentage (2-3%) of the over 800 plants introduced into Missouri are considered invasive.  Many non-native plants are not invasive and support human livelihoods or a preferred quality of life.  Nearly all of the crops that are used for agriculture in the United States were introduced from other countries.   Although the percentage of non-native plants that are invasive is relatively low, the detrimental effects and costs related to the damage invasive plants cause are very high.  The most widely referenced paper (Pimental et al. 2005) on this issue reports that invasive species cost the United States more than $120 billion in damages every year.  To complicate matters more, invasive plants cause both direct and indirect effects that are often difficult to equate to a dollar value.

Bush honeysuckle infestation in Missouri.
Photo by Larry Rizzo
Invasive plants are aggressive, prolific, outcompete and displace native plants that provide the necessary food and habitat for native animals.  Invasive plants arrive in Missouri in one of two ways:   intentionally or accidentally.  The global economy of today’s world means that species from all over the world can unintentionally be transported to the United States and to Missouri as hitchhikers on or in imported cargo shipments.  However, some of the worst plant invaders such as, bush honeysuckle and autumn olive have been introduced intentionally for landscaping, herbal uses, wildlife benefits, erosion control, or wastewater treatment.  The aggressive, competitive characteristics of invasive plants are such that they threaten the stability of ecosystems by reducing biological diversity and replacing beneficial native species with non-native plants that don’t provide the same ecosystem functions necessary to support native animal species and sustain life.   One common belief is that the United States is blessed with ample public lands to support nature and provide the ecosystem functions necessary to maintain our native species.  While Missouri is fortunate to have a great deal of public land, 93% of Missouri’s landscape is privately owned.  Habitat destruction and invasive species are the two largest threats to biodiversity and native plant communities in the United States.  Habitat destruction is occurring at the rate of 6,000 acres per day or 2.2 million acres annually resulting in habitat fragmentation that is continually reducing the amount of habitat available to support wildlife populations. 

So what can Missourians do to reduce or reverse the effects of invasive species?  Landowners could reevaluate the choices that they make for landscaping.  It will certainly be a cultural change, but landowners should consider factors other than solely the appearance of plants used for landscaping.  It seems that most homeowners would like to enjoy birds, butterflies and other wildlife to enhance their landscapes and the enjoyment of their private spaces.  Homeowners can choose to use plants that support wildlife and provide habitat that will help to connect parks and public lands.  Ecosystem functions such as, food-web value, watershed value, soil restorative properties, carbon sequestration and weather moderation are some of the functions that could be considered.  For example, Missouri’s state bird, the bluebird, relies on insects to provide food to exist.  Approximately 4,800 insects are needed to raise a clutch of bluebirds.  Missouri’s native oaks and maples support between 400 and 500 insect species that provide food for many insect-eating birds, while the invasive golden rain tree supports only one known native insect species.   Many beautiful butterflies and moths require specific native host plants.  Exotic invasive species commonly used for landscaping such as, Bradford pears, bush honeysuckle, Japanese barberry, burning bush, winter creeper, privet, tree-of-heaven, amur maple, golden rain tree, etc., are not only detrimental when they escape and invade our native plant communities, they don’t support the ecosystem functions that native plants provide. 
It would be great if only native plants were used in the landscape trade, but it would be a huge step to plant mainly native species, reduce grass areas and restrict non-native plants to plants that are not invasive that are used in only limited areas of the landscape.   A book titled Bringing Nature Home by Dr. Douglas Tallamy is an excellent resource to provide information on reasons to use native plants and plant species to select that benefit native wildlife.  Another resource is the Grow Native! program administered by Missouri Prairie Foundation that can be found at the following website:   The Midwest Invasive Plant Network updated their Landscape Alternatives for Invasive Plants of the Midwest brochure and developed a free I-phone and I-pad app based on the brochure that can be found by searching for Landscape Alternatives in the Apple App Store or at

Timothy J. Banek
 Invasive Species Coordinator
Missouri Department of Conservation
PO Box 180
Jefferson City, MO 65102
(573) 522-4115 ext. 3371

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hydrilla Hunt!

Join the Search for a Superweed
Hydrilla Hunt! program solicits help of lake and river enthusiasts to discover invasive aquatic plant

News Contact:
Cathy McGlynn
(847) 242-6423 office; (845) 667-4981 mobile

GLENCOE, Ill. (June 12, 2013) – Boaters, anglers, swimmers, and others who enjoy Illinois’ lakes and rivers are keeping their eyes peeled this summer for an aquatic “superweed.” Through the Hydrilla Hunt! program, citizen volunteers are on the lookout for a highly invasive aquatic plant named Hydrilla verticillata, or simply “hydrilla.”

Recognized as one of the world’s worst weeds, hydrilla can grow an inch per day and form dense mats of vegetation at the water surface. Within the past few years, hydrilla has been discovered in Wisconsin and Indiana and it is expected to arrive in Illinois very soon. Our desirable native aquatic plants, sport fishing, native wildlife, waterfront property values, and recreational uses might all be seriously impacted.

“Early detection of hydrilla could save Illinois millions of dollars in control costs,” noted Cathy McGlynn, coordinator for the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP). “Experience from other states shows that once a waterway becomes infested with hydrilla, it’s nearly impossible to control. Our hope in Illinois is to identify the plant at a very early stage when populations are still small enough to eradicate and manage,” added McGlynn.

The strain of hydrilla that has been found in the northern United States is believed to have originated in Korea. It grows on mucky as well as sandy bottoms of lakes and rivers, and from very shallow water to depths of 20 feet or more. It can be spotted snagged on fishing lines or on boat anchors, or by noting plants seen while boating or growing along the sides of a pier. Hydrilla spreads quickly, since just a small stem fragment of hydrilla can sprout roots and grow into a whole new plant.

Anyone can participate in the Hydrilla Hunt! program. Volunteers are encouraged to take a more detailed look at aquatic plants they encounter while out and about on Illinois’ waterways. A Hydrilla Identification Sheet (available for download at the program’s website, see below) can be used to differentiate hydrilla from look-alike plants such as Brazilian elodea and American elodea. Volunteers who suspect they may have found hydrilla are asked to take several digital photographs and email them to the Hydrilla Hunt! program for verification.

For more information, including how to become a Hydrilla Hunt! volunteer, a Hydrilla Identification Sheet, fact sheets, and other resources, visit The Hydrilla Hunt! program is coordinated by the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership, the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Lake County Health Department-Lakes Management Unit. Funding support has been provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources through the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.

Guest Article - About the Midwest Invasive Plant Network

Illinois is full of dedicated people and innovative ideas for addressing invasive species. From time to time, this blog is going to host guest articles in which the stories about some of these people, projects, or ideas are told. The next article in this series comes from Kate Howe of the Midwest Invasive Plant Network or MIPN.  MIPN works across the entire Midwest and is a great source for invasive plant resources for Illinois. All of the guest articles can be viewed HERE.

About the Midwest Invasive Plant Network

By Kate Howe

Do you ever wonder what new invasive plants are coming your way from neighboring states or regions? Do you want to share information on control methods and learn about the latest control techniques? Do you want to know about the latest research on invasive species impacts? Get involved with the Midwest Invasive Plant Network!

The Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN) was established in 2003 in response to a need for better communication and collaboration across agencies, organizations, corporations, institutions, and private citizens struggling with invasive plants across the region. MIPN’s mission is to reduce the impacts of invasive plant species in the Midwest, working primarily in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Our organization works to improve invasive plant prevention, early detection, control, and education by creating tools and resources to aid invasive plant management efforts.

Here are some of the things we’re doing to assist your work on the ground in Illinois.

Communication and Information Sharing

One of MIPN’s first accomplishments was to establish a listserv that provides a forum for discussion on invasive plants in the Midwest. Ten years after the listserv started, we have over 550 subscribers and host discussions on control techniques, new invasive plants, job and funding opportunities, and upcoming events. MIPN also hosts a website to provide information on all things related to invasive plants in the Midwest (, including links to great resources provided by our partners.

MIPN is particularly interested in reducing the sale of invasive ornamental plants in our region. We’re working on outreach to both green industry and consumers about the impacts of ornamental invasives on natural areas and better alternatives for landscaping. Consumers can get information on what to plant and what not to plant in our brochure (also available as a free iPhone and iPad app) called Landscape Alternatives for Invasive Plants of the Midwest. We are also nearing completion of a video called “Cultivating Awareness: Ornamental Plants Invading Natural Areas”, which shows Japanese barberry, burning bush, and Callery pear invading natural areas in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. This video is aimed at demonstrating the impacts of these invasive plants when they escape from cultivation.

Early Detection

In order to spread the word about new species of concern in our region, MIPN created two flyers called Keep a Lookout for New Invasive Plants in the Midwest, one for terrestrial plants and one for aquatic plants. These flyers include photos, range maps, and descriptions of diagnostic features to help in the identification of these new species.

We have also partnered with the University of Wisconsin, Colorado State University, and the National Park Service in the development of the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN), a web-based alert system that allows users to sign up for e-mail alerts of new species in their area of interest. GLEDN compiles information from multiple online databases into one website ( and allows users to directly report invasive plant sightings. This tool improves our knowledge of where invasive plants are in the Midwest and where they might be heading next.


There is a lot of information available on control methods for invasive plants, but how do you pick the right method for your particular needs? MIPN has created a searchable on-line database of control methods, designed to help land managers and landowners compare and contrast all methods for managing a particular species and select the best one for their needs. Users can also report on their personal experiences with particular control methods, allowing us to share information that is not available in the published literature. Check it out at

Supporting CWMAs

MIPN has just two part-time staff members, so we can’t possibly accomplish our goals alone. We see Cooperative Weed Management Areas as important partners in reducing the impacts of invasive plants in the Midwest, through their local, on-the-ground work. In 2005, we created the CWMA Cookbook: A Recipe for Success, A Step-by-step Guide on How to Develop a Cooperative Weed Management Area in the Eastern United States to help new CWMAs get off the ground, and we have taught workshops on how to start a CWMA in many places across the country. We also periodically host webinars to provide information on tools and resources of interest to CWMAs.


In addition to the resources mentioned above, we have some general publications on invasive plants, including A Field Guide to Invasive Plants of the Midwest, Pocket Naturalist Guide to Invasive Plants of the Eastern U.S., and Why Should I Care About Invasive Plants?
A poster session at the MIPN annual conference

For those who already know the basics but want to learn about the latest developments in invasive plant research and management techniques, we host an annual conference on invasive plants in the Midwest. The conference provides opportunities to learn through formal presentations, poster discussions, and informal conversations. This year’s conference will be held December 11-12 in Columbus, Ohio in conjunction with the North Central Weed Science Society Conference.

For more information about the Midwest Invasive Plant Network or to access any of our resources, visit

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Hunt for Invasive Species Slogans 6th Edition - Movie Invaders and Moving Invaders

We are continuing our 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 includes occasional posts covering different aspects of the topic. So far, we've covered the following categories: Play-off, Alliteration, Rhyming, Mascots, and Illustrations. For this post, we are going with Movie Invaders and Moving Invaders.
If you know of some invasive species-related items that you think would be good additions to this series,  please send them to

Movie Invaders

So I need to start off by giving credit where credit is due, the idea behind this topic came from my good friend Steve Shults.  He even came up with an impressive list of actual moveis that deal with the subject of invasive species.  I'll likely use that list sometime in the near future to come up with a post of real invasive species movies.  For now, in this first section we are focusing on educational posters, drawings, etc. that highlight invaders as part of fictional movie posters.  This is a match made in heaven.  Movie posters are sensational pieces of advertising.  Meant to grab your attention and make you NEED to see that movie, these posters are often over the top, splashy, and packed with action and cool word art!  Similarly, invasive species educational efforts often use sensationalism to make you pay attention to that species and feel you NEED to kill that invader!  So naturally, this theme is just right for adding to our slogan series.

"Invader from the Black Lagoon"
h/t Michael Keys

If any place deserves this cool of an invasive poster, it is St. Mark's NWR!

This is the perfect poster to start off this section!  From the Invasive Species Management Program at St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge, it has got it all:  based upon a movie filmed in Florida, part of the creature is made from the leaves of an invader, and the poster itself looks remarkedly like the original 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' movie poster.  Best of all, if you look closely you can see that St. Mark's NWR refuge is marked on the shape of Florida, just underneath the deadly claws of the invader that is putting the state into a death grip!  St. Marks is perhaps one of my favorite places to bird watch.  I've lost track of how many lifers I've found there over the years. 

"Invasion of the Flying Fish"

Why is she so scared if the fish is jumping away from her?
Here is another near perfect invader movie poster.  The frightened black and white lady holding her hands up in mid-scream, the dripping font leaning as if it is coming towards you, and the oversaturated colors give the whole thing a 1940's technicolor feel to it.  This poster comes to us from the website, a great site to peruse if you've got some extra time.  I'll add in the site's logo here as well, simply because I love their tagline:

"Attack of the 6.5 mm Flowers"

Cheesy?  Yes, but that's the attraction!

The Alien Plant Working Group, under the Plant Conservation Alliance and the National Park Service, is one of the originators of creating funny, over-the-top educational material about invasive species.  For quite a few years they produced invasive species calendars, with each year having a different quirky theme.  One year (2008 I believe) the calendar spoofed movie posters.  With so many to choose from (roughly 12 since it was a calendar!), I had a hard time settling in on this one of the invasive forget-me-not!  Keep an eye out for this plant; though you may have to look hard, afterall it is only 6.5 mm.

"Lionfish: the Pirate of the Carribbean"

Venomous spines and now swords!  That is one gnarly pirate!
This poster, pulled off of the World Lionfish Hunters Association Facebook Page, is a great drawing.  Better yet was the tagline added in "Lionfish: the REAL Pirate of the Caribbean Plundering our Reefs".  Check out all of the cool information and fun pictures that they have at  Yes, I really like this poster, but honestly I added this to the post mainly to confess that I am extremely interested in hunting lionfish and really do want to plan to do this sometime soon.  So if any of you hardcore lionfish hunters are reading this blog and wouldn't mind an easily sunburnt, prone to sea-sickness, midwesterner tagging along, I'm your man!

"Invasive Art"
h/t Lori Taylor

I got these two drawings from Lori Taylor.  She did them for an invasive poster and sent them over to me, thinking they would be good additions to the slogan series.  She was definitely right about that.  This is impressive work.  If I had to choose a cartoon character for Garlic Mustard, then I would definitely go with the Grinch.  The face is spot-on!  I love how the 'marsh vader' is holding a Phrag stem as a light saber.  Nice work Lori!

Moving Invaders

Changing gears here from invasive species in movies to getting people to stop moving invasive species.  We all know that prevention is the cheapest, easiest, and most successful method of invasive species management; so it should come as no surprise that many educational slogans focus on getting people to stop moving these things around!  We are all guilty of forgetting to clean our boots or not getting every piece of milfoil that's hanging off of our boat trailer.  I am ashamed to say that I have been responsible for introducing several bad invaders onto my land through carelessness or simple laziness.  At least I can also say that I am responsible for eradicating several of these same bad invaders from my land that were introduced by some careless and lazy oaf (not mentioning any names).

"Blow the Whistle on Canada Thistle"
h/t Amy Ferriter - a great resource for clever slogans and art!
The folks up in Minnesota really started a great trend when they developed the Play Clean Go program.  This effort is kind of like the "Protect Your Waters' campaign only for terrestrial habitats as well.  Just like Prairie Home Companion and the Emerald Ash Borer, the Play Clean Go program started from humble beginnings in the upper midwest and is spreading throughout the nation.  Let's hope that it becomes as successful and well-known as Prairie Home Companion and not nearly as destructive and hated as Emerald Ash Borer!

Here's another one from the Play Clean Go portfolio, this time from Idaho (h/t Amy Ferriter)

There's that yellow star-thistle rearing its ugly head again.

Boots, Boots, and more Boots

Boots are a unviersal piece of equipment for outdoor recreationists and definitely serve as the vehicle for many-a-wandering invader looking to hang its hat elsewhere.  As such, the boots (or actually their owners) are the target of intensive outreach efforts to get people to clean those clod-hoppers once in a while!
I've found a ton of boot-related invasive species slogans and material.  Here is just a smattering:

"Clean Drain Dry Your Gear"
Based upon the number of educational material produced, Idaho really does not want you to move invasive species around

The above one is another example of Idaho's great educational material.  Wading boots can move aquatic species around, especially if those boots have felt soles.  I've had the privledge of spending some time in Idaho in the past and I really love the state.  However, I must say that the last time I drove through there I got a speeding ticket (unjustly I feel, Darn you tourist speed trap!), so that left a bad taste in my mouth for the state.  Instead of thinking of the beautiful mountains and lovely forests when I hear about Idaho, now all I can think of is the $45 I had to mail in!  So please do visit the great state of Idaho, just slow down a bit when you are coming into Coeur d'Alene.

"Look Before You Leave"

Those little knotweeds sure do look happy!
Our neighbors-to-the-north with the Ontario Invasive Plant Council have really been excelling when it comes to getting the word out about invasive species.  Recently on their Facebook page, they displayed a series of cartoons centered around the "Look Before You Leave" slogan.  Each of these drawings features a different invader along with a scenario where they might be spread around.  It is no surprise that boots made it into their series.  Keep up the good work Ontario IPC!  I do not know the artist for these, but if someone does, please send me their name so that I can properly tip my hat to them for putting their talent to good use.

**UPDATE:  I was contacted by OIPC with further information on their "Look Before You Leave" Cartoons. These are the work of the artist Maureen Shelleau from Off the Dock Cartoons (  Great job Marueen and thanks OIPC for the update!

"Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks: Give Invasive Species the Brush Off"

This dog looks very concerned about the state of those hiking boots. 
I wonder if you can train dogs to sniff out garlic mustard seeds?
Yet another slogan from the Play Clean Go program.  I really like the dual play off slogans at use here in this flyer.  First, changing 'its' with 'your' is a clever switch to an old saying, but it's the double-meaning of 'Brush-off' that sets off this slogan as worthy of addition to the post.

I'm Getting in on the Act

Hey, I recognize that boot!
Just to prove that I can jump on the bandwagon with the best of them, here is a shot of a boot owned and used by yours truly in mid-brush!  I use this shot in presentations about invasive species spread.  Also, below is a screenshot and link to a short story on the local PBS station I did on boot brush stations.  I expect notification of my academy award nomination anyday now!

"Squeal on Pigs"
h/t Shawna Bautista

Call the 'Swine Line'!
This is one of my all-time favorite invasive species slogans.  I was so glad when Shawna Bautista, from the USFS, told me about this program from Oregon.  Best of all, the number used is named 'The Swine Line'.  It doesn't get any better than this!  Feral hogs are a major problem throughout the United States.  We need to do anything we can to get people aware of this issue and willing to help out and report sightings.  Oregon is definitely on the right track here with their Squeal on Pigs Program.

"Malicious but Delicious"
h/t Karen Tharp

Now this is my type of invasive species control!
Speaking of feral swine, The Nature Conservancy has teamed up with a local resturant down in Austin Texas to raise awareness about some 'Malicious but Delicious' invasive species.  This effort, called 'Texas is Tasty' includes an awesome looking meal cooked with known Texas invaders.  Be sure to check out more about this innovative program at  As their flyer says, the answer to the question "How Can We Fight Back?" should always be "Let's Eat Them"!

"Carpy-Swine or Swiny-carp"
You can't believe what modern science can do these days
One last pig-related item before I end this post.  This is not a slogan nor is it being used in advertisting (as far as I know).  I included it here in this post simply because it made me laugh!  Can you think of a worse invasive species than a wild swine / carp cross?

I was forwarded this by several other people so I am not sure who I should rightfully acknowledge as my source, but if you deal with aquatic invasive species, you'll likely get this in your inbox sometime soon as well.

These slogan posts were originally intended to be a three-part series.  However, I've had so much fun writing these and have gotten so many great slogans and pictures sent to me that we just keep going.  This was our sixth post.  I'm definitely planning on continuing this series, so look for another slogan post in a few months.  As always, if you see something that you think would be good to include, send it to me at

Please do check out the other entries in this series This series on invasive species slogans with posts on Play-off, Alliteration, Rhyming, Mascots, and Illustrations. Also, check out all of the FUN posts we've put up on this blog. To follow the Illinois ISAM news blog, 'like' us at

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2013 Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month – Wrap Up

Well, we are reaching the end of the fourth annual Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month (ISAM).  A huge thanks goes out to everyone who helped plan, organize, and conduct ISAM events.  This year has proven to be record setting with over 80 events being held across the state. Programs ran the gamut in terms of scope and size. Some of the types of events held were garlic mustard pulls (an impressive 42 events held this year), emerald ash borer educational programs (3 events), webinars (2), stewardship/work days (17), kids’ events (5), and training/education/awareness sessions (15).

The ISAM newsblog has received over 17,000 page views over the last year and the Facebook page now has nearly 350 followers. We’ve started a series of Guest Articles available on the newsblog to highlight some of the stories of invasive species projects here in Illinois.

This was the second year for the ISAM awards, with awards being given out to 8 recipients over 5 different categories. The Illinois Invasive Plant Species Council has also been revived and is now actively pursuing projects.

As always, we are looking for ways to improve ISAM. We want to build upon this year’s great ISAM to make next year’s even better. I think 100 events for 2014 is not out of the question and we are already starting to plan a potential invasive species symposium as the keystone event for May 2014. If you have any suggestions, feedback, comments, etc. about ISAM, please send them to