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Invasive Species of Pennsylvania

Updated on May 11, 2014

Pennsylvania's Most Wanted ...or Least Wanted!

Living things are meant to be in their natural habitat and ecosystems. It just makes sense. Ecosystems are like a fine oiled machine. Bump a niche here or there and a problem will undoubtedly occur. While some alien, non-native, or introduced species may have a very little effect, invasive species cause harm to their foreign ecosystem. They threaten the fine balance of the predator/prey relationships, competition for resources, population balance, reproduction, biodiversity, and cost billions of dollars to human enterprises. They also jeopardize human health. They even have the capability of altering the abiotic component of ecosystems! The consensus of most resources is that, second to habitat destruction, invasive species will lead to the mass extinction of hundreds of thousands of organisms in due time. These organisms spread by shipping, travel, wood products, ornamental plants, and the pet trade. They come from all of the kingdoms of living things, viruses, and even prions. The United States has approximately 7,000 invasive species of organisms (approximately 50,000 non native species.) There are estimates that invasive species may cost our country up to 150 billion dollars a year.

Ten Nature Facts About Pennsylvania

1. State Flower - Mountain Laurel

2. State Tree - Hemlock

3. State Animal - Whitetail Deer

4. State Insect - Firefly

5. State Fish - Brook Trout

6. 116 State Parks & 294 State Game Lands

7. 45,000 Miles of Rivers and Streams and 400,000 Acres Wetlands *

8. 4,000 Ponds and Lakes (50 Natural Lakes) *

9. 17 Million Acres of Forestland *

10. 25,000 Species of Fungi, Plants, and Animals (150,000 Total Identified Species) *

* Statistics vary by source. I have averaged my sources.

The Four Main Ecosystems of Pennsylvania

1. Temperate Deciduous Forest

- Oak Hickory

- Northern Hardwood

2. Wetland

3. Lakes

4. Rivers, Creeks, and Streams.

Invasive Species of Pennsylvania

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Zebra Mussels- Out-competes native species aggressively.Canada Thistle- Overcrowds and out-competes native plant floraBrown Marmorated Stink Bug- House pest and agricultural destructionChestnut Blight- Very deadly fungal pathogenDutch Elm Disease- Very deadly fungal pathogenEuropean Corn Borer- Agricultural destructionGarlic Mustard- Overcrowds and out-competes native plant floraHemlock Wooly Adelgid- insect that feeds on the sap of Hemlock and Spruce trees; killing themJapanese Beetle- Feeds on 300 different host plantsEuropean Starling- Competes with native species and destroys cropsMultiflora Rose- Dense thickets crowd out native speciesRed-Eared Slider (Released by pet owners)- Out-competes native turtles for food and basking sitesNutria- Overgrazes wetland habitatsHydilla (Freshwater plant)- Crowds out native species, interferes with irrigation and boatingWest Nile Virus- Bird and mammal pathogen
Zebra Mussels- Out-competes native species aggressively.
Zebra Mussels - Out-competes native species aggressively.
Canada Thistle- Overcrowds and out-competes native plant flora
Canada Thistle - Overcrowds and out-competes native plant flora
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug- House pest and agricultural destruction
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug - House pest and agricultural destruction
Chestnut Blight- Very deadly fungal pathogen
Chestnut Blight - Very deadly fungal pathogen
Dutch Elm Disease- Very deadly fungal pathogen
Dutch Elm Disease - Very deadly fungal pathogen
European Corn Borer- Agricultural destruction
European Corn Borer - Agricultural destruction
Garlic Mustard- Overcrowds and out-competes native plant flora
Garlic Mustard - Overcrowds and out-competes native plant flora
Hemlock Wooly Adelgid- insect that feeds on the sap of Hemlock and Spruce trees; killing them
Hemlock Wooly Adelgid - insect that feeds on the sap of Hemlock and Spruce trees; killing them
Japanese Beetle- Feeds on 300 different host plants
Japanese Beetle - Feeds on 300 different host plants
European Starling- Competes with native species and destroys crops
European Starling - Competes with native species and destroys crops
Multiflora Rose- Dense thickets crowd out native species
Multiflora Rose - Dense thickets crowd out native species
Red-Eared Slider (Released by pet owners)- Out-competes native turtles for food and basking sites
Red-Eared Slider (Released by pet owners) - Out-competes native turtles for food and basking sites
Nutria- Overgrazes wetland habitats
Nutria - Overgrazes wetland habitats
Hydilla (Freshwater plant)- Crowds out native species, interferes with irrigation and boating
Hydilla (Freshwater plant) - Crowds out native species, interferes with irrigation and boating
West Nile Virus- Bird and mammal pathogen
West Nile Virus - Bird and mammal pathogen

Invasives of PA - Non-Plants

Canada Goose
Canada Goose

Reptiles: Red-eared Slider & Yellow-bellied Slider

Birds: Pigeon, House Sparrow, Mute Swan, Canada Goose & European Starling

Insects, Arachnids, Worms, and Snails: Japanese Beetle, Pine Shoot Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, Sirex Wood Wasp, Asian Longhorned Beetle, Gypsy Moth, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Hemlock Wooly, Adelgid, Elongate Hemlock Scale, Beech Bark Scale, Varroa Mite, Tracheal Mite, Non-native earthworms, Potato Cyst Nematode, Golden Nematode, Soybean Cyst Nematode, & Great African Snail

Other Invertebrates:

Quagga Mussel, Zebra Mussel, Fishhook Waterflea, Rusty Crayfish, Spiny Waterflea, & Asian Clam

Mammals: Nutria, Norway Rat, House Mouse, Ground Squirrel (13 Lined,) & Feral Swine

Fish: Northern Snakehead, European Rudd, Tubenose Goby, Asian Carp, Eurasian Ruffe, Flathead Catfish, Sea Lamprey, & Round Goby

Invasives of PA - Plants. Fungi, etc.

Purple Loosestrife
Purple Loosestrife

Terrestrial Plants (Affecting Aquatic Ecosystems): Narrow-Leaved Cattail, Hybrid Cattail & Giant Knotweed

Aquatic Plants: Wild Taro, Alligator Weed, Giant Salvinia, Water Spinach, Parrot Feather, Hydrilla, Water Chestnut, East Indian Hygrophilia, Didymo, Brazilian Waterweed, Curly Leaf Pond Weed, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Limnophila Sessiflora, & Carolina Fanwort.

Vascular Plants: Kudzo, Giant Hogweed, Goatstrue, Multiflora Rose, Johnsongrass, Garlic Mustard, Mile-A-Minute, Canada Thistle, Asiatic Bittersweet, Japanese Knotweed, Tree of Heaven, Purple Loosestrife, Japanese Hops, & Common Reed

Fungus: Chrysanthemum White Rust, Dutch Elm Disease, Sudden Oak Death/Ramorum Blight, Potato Wart, & White Pine Blister

Bacteria & Viruses: European Stone Fruit Yellows, Plum Pox Virus, Ralstonia Blight, West Nile Virus & Ring Rot

Asian Mosquito
Asian Mosquito

Top Ten List Of Invasive Species Which Threaten Pennsylvania

Anthony Laconte, Harrisburg Environmental News Examiner

1. Bighead and Silver Carp

2. Black and Brown Rat

3. Asian Mosquito

4. Zebra Mussels

5. Asian Lady Beetle

6. Japanese Beetle

7. Emerald Ash Borer

8. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

9. Northern Snakehead Fish

10. Red Fire Ant

Multiflora Rose
Multiflora Rose

Top Ten List Of Plants Which Threaten Pennsylvania

Center For Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health and EDD MapS

1. Japanese Stillgrass

2. Multiflora Rose

3. Japanese Barberry

4. Garlic Mustard

5. Watercress

6. Japanese Honeysuckle

7. Oriental Bittersweet

8. Wine Raspberry

9. Redtop

10. Big Chickweed

What Are Invasive Species Guilty Of?

A Brief Look At Their Threats ...

Invasive species are introduced into an already-established delicate web of feeding relationships. These new species, often aggressive, feed on many indigenous organisms. This leaves less food for their natural predators and increases the population of their prey. Moreover, they are feeding on species that have no evolved defenses against them. Adding to this whole mess, is the fact that many invasives have no natural predators. They can breed and spread quickly with relative ease, while out-competing the niches of native species. The ripple effect of out-competing continues. Reduced numbers of organisms in a population results in less reproduction, further reducing their numbers. Offspring that are produced are a target for these invaders as prey as well. A native species has no choice but to relocate to another habitat if possible.

Looking at the big picture, the elimination of native species not only upsets the energy transfer in a community, available resources, and loss of habitat but greatly reduces the biodiversity of an ecosystem. For example, Kudzo, an aggressive weed in Southeast U.S., has turned ecosystems into a monoculture of this invasive species alone. The National Wildlife Foundation states that 42% of threatened and endangered species are at risk primarily because of invasive species.

Prions, viruses, bacteria, and fungi are invasives as well. Many of these agents or organisms are pathogens. The diseases they cause have infected humans. (West Nile Virus) Many are species-specific in their target. Dutch Elm Disease is caused by a fungus. It is estimated that over 100 million trees have been killed by this species. (75% of the Elm trees in the U.S.)

Invasive Species also:

- Out-compete natives for other resources.

- Can alter the chemical conditions of an ecosystem. (i.e. Soil pH)

- Destroy agricultural crops; costing the U.S. billions of dollars.

- Invade homes as house pests.

- Clog boat hulls and docks.

- Increase wildfires.

- Pose safety risks (non disease related) to humans.

- Alter the beauty of a natural ecosystem.

Yes, this is a serious environmental issue!

Short Videos On Invasives - Enjoy!

Entomological Society of America

Pennsylvania IPM Program:

Introduction To The BugMobile

Pennsylvania IPM Program:

Asian Longhorned Beetle

Pennsylvania IPM Program:

Zebra Mussels

Pennsylvania IPM Program:

Purple Loosestrife

Combatting Invasives

What's Being Done?

1. Biological Control - Releasing natural predators, parasites, and pathogens.

2. Chemical Control - Use of pesticides and herbicides.

3. Mechanical Control - Removal by timbering, mowing, pulling, harvesting, controlled burning, trapping, and culling.

4. Reproductive Control - Release pheromones that disrupt reproduction; releasing sterile mates.

5. Creation of physical and biological barriers.

6. Regulation of transport, imports, and boating.

7. Education!

Beginner Resources - Some proceeds go to the American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know®
Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know®

"Written for nonexpert but educated readers, Invasive Species will reward those who demand well-documented information without requiring scientific details. By extending his wide-ranging survey of biological invasions beyond their biology, Simberloff acknowledges the crucial human dimensions of invasive species." -- Science

 
Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species
Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species

Features full-color photos and descriptions of some 175 alien species--both terrestrial and aquatic

Detailed species accounts include information on identifying characteristics, effects on the ecosystem, and effective management techniques

 
Where Do Camels Belong?: The story and science of invasive species
Where Do Camels Belong?: The story and science of invasive species

"A well put together book about the science and the philosophy surrounding invasive species"—The Times

 
Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions (Encyclopedias of the Natural World)
Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions (Encyclopedias of the Natural World)

“Simberloff and Rejmanek’s Encyclopedia gets high scores for access and userfriendliness . . . Attractive photos, supportive tables, and illustrative figures complete the helpful presentation.”

(Scott Ruhren Bioscience 2012-03-01)

 
Invasion Ecology
Invasion Ecology

“An extensive literature cited section is provided … .Will be appreciated by motivated undergraduates and those looking for a concise integration of this fast growing field.”

Northeastern Naturalist

 
Resources
Resources

RESOURCES

Click on Link To The Right!

Scroll through web links, bibliography, and files.

Additional Invasive Species Resources - Some proceeds go to the American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

Cane Toad
Cane Toad

Elsewhere... Top 10 Invasive Species (In The US)

Time Magazine

1. Asian Carp

2. Rabbits

3. Cane Toads

4. Kudzu

5. Gray Squirrel

6. Killer Bees

7. Starlings

8. Northern Snakehead

9. Zebra Mussels

10. Burmese Python

Northern Snakehead
Northern Snakehead

Elsewhere Part II: Worst Invasive Species - 10 Frustrating Plants & Animals That Make You Scream

Huffington Post

1. Cane Toad

2. Starling

3. Burmese Python

4. Kudzu

5. European Rabbit

6. Asian Carp

7. Northern Snakehead

8. Grey Squirrel

9. Zebra Mussel

10. Lionfish

For The Kids - Some proceeds go to the American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

"We won't have a society if we destroy the environment."

Margaret Mead

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