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Continuing Battle Against Invasive Species

Continuing Battle Against Invasive Species

Nearly every terrestrial, wetland and aquatic ecosystem in the United States has been invaded by species that are non-native to it and whose introduction and continued presence causes economic, social or environmental harm. A number of invasive species have hitchhiked their way into the U.S. on imported goods and packaging materials. Natural climate events such as hurricanes have also brought some to the country. Additionally, a native plant in one part of the country can become an invasive species in another region.

People, businesses and governments spend considerable time, money and other resources trying to control these unwanted invaders. Recent studies estimate that invasive species have cost North America $2 billion per year in the early 1960s to more than $26 billion annually since 2010. The total global estimated cost of these non-natives tops more than $1.288 trillion over the past 50 years.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is supporting research, education and Extension efforts to effectively manage invasive species with funding from Section 406 Pest Management Programs and grant opportunities offered through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program. In addition, NIFA provides additional support through annual Smith-Lever as well as Hatch formula funding.

Recent NIFA Supported Invasive Species Efforts

Through field and lab experiments — and the help of more than 1,200 community scientists — researchers in Pennsylvania identified native species (including birds, arthropods, reptiles and small mammals) that prey on adult spotted lanternflies, an incredibly destructive pest in the northeastern U.S. Pennsylvania State University project supported by McIntire-Stennis funds.

The Michigan Paddle Stewards program teaches paddlers to identify, report and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Participants get tips for properly cleaning their boats and paddling equipment to avoid transferring aquatic invasive species and diseases between water bodies. Through this program, hydrilla, an invasive plant that had never been found in Michigan before, was confirmed in residential ponds that connect to a river system.

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Photo Credit: adobe-stock-moneycue-canada

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