COLUMN: New York’s Invasive Species Awareness Week

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All of us can influence the introduction, spread and management of invasive species. Learn more by participating in this year’s New York Invasive Species Awareness Week, June 6-12.

An invasive species is a non-native plant, animal, or other organism that can invade natural areas and spread.

Activities such as trade, travel, and tourism can increase the spread of invasives. We can unknowingly spread invasive species via our clothing when we go walking or hiking. Still more invasives are deliberately introduced as pets, ornamental plants or for recreation.

Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to native plants, animals and our quality of life. It’s imperative to be involved.

Education

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website provides information about invasive species including educational outreach at www.dec.ny.gov. The website features a documentary “Uninvited: The Spread of Invasive Species” which highlights species threatening New York and includes some innovative ways that the state is combatting these threats.

PRISMs

The NYDEC collaborates with eight Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management organizations. In central New York, we belong to the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario PRISM, or SLELO.

PRISMs coordinate how to deal with invasives in their areas, including training volunteer citizen scientists. Consider being a volunteer. Visit the SLELO website at https://www.sleloinvasives.org/learn/volunteer/ for more information.

New invasives on the radar

Spotted lanternfly along with Asian jumping worms are the latest threats in New York. The jumping worms are getting attention lately. These worms are known for their “crazy wiggling” behavior.

Unlike regular earthworms, jumping worms alter the soil structure and chemistry of our forests by consuming critical organic matter that supplies nutrients to plants. There are no control methods for jumping worms; however, you can prevent their spread.

Learn more about jumping worms by visiting http://cceoneida.com/environment/invasive-nuisance-species/invasive-pests/jumping-worm.

Alternatives to invasive plants

Many plants once considered good plants for the landscape are now considered invasive because they have escaped our natural environment and are out-competing native species. They can reduce food and shelter for native wildlife, including pollinators.

Instead of butterfly bushes, which are considered invasive, plant native summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) or blazing star (Liatris spicata).

Both the burning bush and the Japanese barberry are both on the New York State invasive plant list. Burning bushes can escape your yard, invade natural areas, and out-compete native habitats. Consider native black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) or highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) instead.

Instead of Japanese barberry, plant native winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata). Studies have shown that Japanese barberry can actually play host to more ticks as well as being an invasive species.

Learn more about what plants are invasive and suggestions on what to plant in their place by visiting the NYSDEC website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/plantwise.pdf.

Become a volunteer citizen scientist, report invasive species sitings, and help spread the word, not only during Invasive Species Awareness Week but every day you’re out and about or in the garden.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County: Home and garden questions can be emailed to homeandgarden@cornell.edu or call 315-736-3394, press 1 and then ext. 333. Leave your question name and number. Questions are answered weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, visit: http://cceoneida.com/ or call 315-736-3394, press 1 and then ext. 100.

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