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What Makes a Plant or Animal Species Invasive?

Honeysuckle

An invasive species can be any kind of living thing — animal, plant, insect, fungus or bacteria — that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm. They can harm the environment, the economy and even human health. Species that grow and reproduce quickly and spread aggressively with potential to cause harm are deemed “invasive.”

Top 5 Reasons to Disdain Invasives
1. Invasive species can change the food web in an ecosystem by destroying or replacing native food sources. The invasive species may provide little to no food value for wildlife.
2. Because native species don’t know how to compete with invasive species that aren’t from this region, invasives choke out natives, altering the abundance or diversity of species that are important habitat for native wildlife.
3. Invasives can change the chemical makeup of the water or soil, which can impact native plants and wildlife.
4. Invasives can prevent native species from reproducing.
5. Invasive species are expensive. Invasive species control costs about $120 billion per year in the U.S. The global cost of invasive species management is equal to 5% of the global economy.

What You Can Do:
1. Educate yourself. If you notice a plant or tree spreading in your landscape, learn how to safely control and eradicate that species from your yard. Do a quick search of the Internet (for example “barberry invasive”) to find out if a plant is invasive before introducing it to your yard.
2. Choose natives instead. Native plants are becoming more widely available for purchase, especially at local spring plant sales. Natives provide food and habitat for our native insect and animal species, particularly birds, bees and butterflies.
3. Don’t dump or introduce aquatic animals, plant or water to area bodies of water. Aquarium plants and animals aren’t native and will compete with native life for resources.

Find out more about some common invasives in DuPage County here

Buckthorn

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