Invasive Species Awareness Week is here this year from February 25 to March 3. The goal of this week is to raise awareness and identify solutions to invasive species at the local, state, tribal, regional, national, and international levels. It is a great time to get involved in your local environment to protect indigenous native species of all types of plants and wildlife.
What Are Invasive Species?
Invasive species are living organisms that are not native to an ecosystem and can cause harm to the environment, the economy, or even to human health. Invasive species do not need to necessarily come from another country. They can come from the same country but from different areas. For example, lake trout are native species to the Great Lakes, but they are an invasive species in Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming because they compete with native cutthroat trout for habitat and other resources like food and oxygen.
How Do Invasive Species Spread?
Usually, invasive species are spread by human activities, and most of the time, their spread is unintentional. Every day, humans are improving travel and trade. That is how most species are spread. For instance, ships can carry aquatic organisms in their ballast water. Smaller boats may carry them on their propellers. Insects and bugs can burrow into wood, shipping palettes, and crates that are shipped to many incredible places around the world. Invasive species can even be pets that are released into the wild. Burmese pythons have become a huge problem in the Florida Everglades because they have been released as pets. Since they have no natural predators in that area, their population has boomed and has caused other native species populations to decline.
Examples of Invasive Species
Invasive species are more prevalent than you may think that they are. Cogongrass is an Asian plant that came to the United States as seeds in packing material. This plant is now spreading rapidly through the southeastern United States and displacing many native plants. Cogongrass does not provide any food value for native wildlife and it even increases the threat of wildfire as it burns hotter and faster than native grasses do.
Questions? Ask American Native Plants!
If you have more questions about National Invasive Species Awareness Week, feel free to contact us at American Native Plants. Our nursery, located in Middle River, Maryland, is open all year to accommodate your needs. We have an inventory of 400,000 native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants that you can use to help combat invasive species in your area. Give our catalog a look, give us a call, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+!