In order to help create understanding around invasive species, this week is highlighted as National Invasive Species Awareness Week.
What are invasive species?
Invasive species are plants, animals, or pathogens that are non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm. (Executive Order 13112).
Species defined as invasive are like an unwanted house guest, they put down roots, spread around and overstay their welcome – permanently unless they are removed. Why? Because our environment makes it such a welcoming place. They often persist because of lack of natural predators, competitors in the environment, lack of disease that would normally regulate their populations – all factors contribute to a favorable environment.
How costly are invasive species? Texas Invasives estimates around $137 billion annually in the US. The majority of the cost is attributed to the prevention and control and continued monitoring. The most harmful species cost in excess of $100 million annually.
What can you do to help?
The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department hosts two workshops annually to educate residents on invasive pests and vegetation. Guided by Dr. Hans Landel (Texas Invasives) the purpose of the workshops is to train volunteers to identify, monitor, and remove species.
Locally, The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) publishes a field guide entitled The Quiet Invasion – and a limited amount of copies are currently available for pick up at the Environmental Services Facility (8203 Millennium Forest Drive, The Woodlands.) For more information about the guide, please find a digital guide online.
There are many online resources available to research and monitor invasive species in the area. Check out Texas Invasives’ database to track and identify – and promptly provide your unwanted house guest an invitation to leave.
Here are additional resources to help:
Prohibited Exotic Species – Texas Parks and Wildlife
Noxious Plant List – Texas Department of Agriculture
Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests – USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station
State Noxious, Texas – USDA NRCS Plants Database
Top 24 Invasive Plants – City of Austin Invasive Management Plan
Plants listed in the Invaders of Texas App
Prohibited Plant Species – North Texas Water Garden Society
The Quiet Invasion – Houston Advanced Research Center