Sunday, February 29, 2004

Getting Tough on the Boaters

Officials in the state of Maine announced last week that they're going to be getting a lot stricter about fining boaters who violate the state's laws, requiring them to keep their boats weed-free. As reported by, the state feels they've spent enough time educating people about how the rules work (get a sticker, clean your boat) - they're ready to enforce! The Maine Warden Service is seeking to remove a restriction in the current legislation that requires them to issue warnings instead of fines if a violator does not have a boat sticker. The article also has a well-written review of other invasive aquatic plant issues in the state, and a "by the numbers" review of the boat inspection program.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Nothing much new

The Telegraph has an excellent article about the red king crabs (Paralithodes camtschatica) invading the waters of Norway, though the report is quite similar to a previous article from 2002.

On a different note, there is also this great article from the New York Times, which discusses the effects that many exotic pets have had following their release/escape into the wilds of Florida. If you register, you can view a short slide show called "Exotic Beasts." Abandoned pet Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) are of particular concern in Everglades National Park, which the NYT reports has set up a python hotline. There is a good Miami Herald article on the subject from December 2002.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Cold Turtle Soup?

As reported by, Biologists in Viet Nam were alarmed to discover red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta) last week in Hoan Kiem Lake. The turtles, native to America, join eight other turtle species in the lake - 5 of which were introduced by people. Earlier this year, the government made plans to dredge the lake, in an effort to deepen the lake and provide a larger, cleaner turtle habitat. Bonus points to the Vietnam News Agency for using the turtle's scientific name.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

If Only It Were Really This Simple

The Exotic Species Program, part of New Hampshire's Department of Environmental Services, has a set of web pages that now features this page (.pdf file) for kids print out and color. It features a split view of a pond, one side healthy and high in biodiversity, the other side bland and filled with non-native milfoil (Myriophyllum spp.). Glad they decided not to draw a triploid grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) in there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Alaskan Invasion

The Union of Concerned Scientists has published a report about invasive species in the state of Alaska. In it, you'll find general information about invasive species, but also descriptions of species, key pathways of invasion, and stakeholders, all tailored to Alaska. There is also a mini-report about how the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act is important to that state. The pair of reports are the third in a series - you can find links all the reports on this page.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Forget the Groundhog!

This is about 3 weeks too late, but worth posting anyway: Turns out that in Louisiana, rather than relying on the Northeast fave "Punxsutawney Phil," they turn to "Nonc Nutria," or "Uncle Nutria" (Myocastor coypus), for their weather predictions. As reported by The Daily Advertiser, this past Groundhog Day, Nonc Nutria saw his shadow, indicating that the state should be prepared for 6 more weeks of winter.

Monday, February 23, 2004

...@" Snails leave a trail "@... :-)

ONE News is reporting that ship workers in New Zealand discovered giant African land snails (Achatina fulica) and their eggs on the containers of a ship arriving from the Wallis and Futuna Islands. The snails, which were quickly destroyed, have been discovered in the past at other New Zealand ports. Luckily the ship workers were recently accredited by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture's sea container inspection program (some good publicity for the program as well). Giant African land snails not only threaten agricultural crops, they are also known carriers of disease.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

"a ball to catch and good eatin' too"

The above quote refers to oscars (Astronotus ocellatus) and tilapia (Tilapia spp.), just two of the many exotic fish that have invaded South Florida. The Herald-Tribune reports that more than 53 different non-native species can now be found in the state, from the aforementioned fish to hoplo catfish (Hoplosternum thoracatum) and jewelfish (Hemichromis bimaculatus). Local biologists are worried that people that consider the introduced fish a benefit rather than a potential problem may be spreading them to new ponds and other fresh water bodies.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Seeds of Sida

Country News is reporting that Aussies should be on the lookout for a potential invasive plant in northern Victoria: ivy-leaf sida (Malvella leprosa). Also known as alkali mallow and Sida hederacea, the plant is native to the western U.S., and is considered a weed in several states. Bonus points to Country News for using the plant's scientific name.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to the story.

Friday, February 20, 2004


Seems New Zealand's biosecurity regulations are not so secure. As reported in this article from Scoop, a Forest and Bird Conservation Manager successfully registered his pet cat via the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's online biosecurity accreditation project. The owner was horrified at how easy it was to become accredited, as are others. But then again, his cat can now officially carry out biosecurity inspections of sea containers - not really that much different from the APHIS "Beagle Brigade." :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2004

New in the Literature

Recently published journal articles:

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Mercer Me!

This March 9th, residents of Mercer Island (Washington state) will vote to approve or reject an "ivy initiative" - a $12.5 million, 10-year plan to clean the island of invasive plants. According to this article from the Seattle Times, the money will come from a huge increase in residents' property taxes. Concerned citizens collected over 3000 signatures to get the question on the ballot. You can read more about the Mercer Island invasives in previous ISW posts.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to the story.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Snowflakes in Hawaii

The Honolulu Star Bulletin has this story about the invasive snowflake coral (Carijoa riisei) killing colonies of native black coral off the coast of Maui. Though the snowflake coral is so far only attacking black coral at its deepest ocean depths, scientists fear that the invasion will harm Hawaii's black coral market by reducing the establishment of new populations within reach of scuba divers. You may also want to check out this article from a July 2003 issue of the same newspaper. Bonus points to the Star Bulletin for using the scientific name.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Garlic Mustard Patrol

It's almost that time of year...soon garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) plants will be poking their insidious leaves out into the early springtime sun. Show your friends and colleagues that you can pull garlic mustard with the best of them, with this brand new "Garlic Mustard Patrol" T-shirt. Brought to you by the Invasive Species Weblog, this T-shirt joins the baseball cap and mug that are already part of the garlic mustard product line.

front of garlic mustard patrol t-shirtback of garlic mustard patrol t-shirt

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Exceptions to the Ruling

According to this article from Newsday, the Department of Environmental Conservation in New York recently issued emergency regulations regarding the import of live carp into the state. Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus) will be completely prohibited, but bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) are exempted from the regulations for two reasons: 1) there is a large, well-established market for bigheads in New York City and Westchester County, where they are sold as food and 2) New York is seen as a transportation corridor for bighead carp markets in the Boston area (thanks New York :-P). Retailers that receive bighead carp in the approved New York areas are required to kill them before turning them over to the purchaser. You can read the full text of the regulation here, and read the impact statement here.

Saturday, February 14, 2004


A tree removal company in Ontario, Canada, charged with removing ash trees in an effort to stop the spread of the emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus planipennis), accidentally chopped down 80 walnut trees in the process. According to this story at, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency admitted that some trees are being misidentified, while others have been cut down though they were not marked. When the project is completed, more than 64,000 ash trees will have been cut down (hey, that's only a 0.1% error rate).

Friday, February 13, 2004

Snips of Snails

The Sydney Morning Herald posted this article about the Asian tramp snail (Bradybaena similaris), whose populations have been begun expanding along the NSW coast of Australia. Scientists think the snails are thriving due to what has been a hot, humid summer in Sydney. Turns out Asian tramp snails are efficient hitchhikers, and have also made their presence known in Florida.

Thanks to members of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting links to the article and related web pages.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Invasive Species, or Roving Room Deodorizer?

Back in December, an alert went out across the U.S. about the wood-boring beetles being found in packages of pinecone potpourri. At the time, there weren't any really good pictures, but you can now see detailed images of larvae and what infested potpourri looks like. For more information, go to this page from Purdue University's Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory, or this page from the Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland website.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

UNited against invasives

There are big UN meetings, focusing on biodiversity, being held in two locations this week. This article from The Independent provides details about the International Maritime Organization's efforts to get countries to commit to ballast water management. This article from The Star (Malaysia) talks about UN efforts to significantly reduce loss of biodiversity.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Meow Mix

To whoever is feeding the feral cats (Felis domesticus) at the abandoned building on Mt. Vernon St. (by UMass Boston):

The flock of starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) really appreciates the cat food, all 150 of them. I have a feeling if there was ever a cat in that plastic carrier you put by the fence, it's been picked clean by now.

Monday, February 09, 2004

The JPAC from the CEC of the NAFTA, OK?

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), working under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), heard from their Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) last December about invasive species. The JPAC presented official advice to the CEC, which you can now download as a .pdf file and read for yourself: "Preventing and Controlling Invasive Species in North America." The advice is pretty vague, but does recognize that invasive species are a problem that should be given high priority.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to the report.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Land of Cotton?

Georgia is the latest state to succumb to the horrors of the hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), according to this article from The Gainesville Times. At risk are the livelihoods of many native plant and animal species that depend on hemlock forests for survival. To see a Powerpoint presentation on wooly adelgid in the Southern Appalachians, click here and search for "Rich Evans" (10Mb file).

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Launch Party's Over

Fresh off the defeat of the grass carp bill, legislators in Maine have introduced another bill to fight invasive aquatic plants. Sponsored by Senator John Martin, the bill would require boat inspections at all public boat launches, and would keep the launches gated when inspectors are not available. The Press Herald has the story, along with comments from lake associations (feeling overwhelmed about tryint to keep weeds out of lakes) and fishermen (not happy about restricting public access to lakes, since people with money will just use private boat launches). All Mainers with motorized boats on inland waters must already purchase and display a Lake and River Protection Sticker.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Hawaii Fly-O

The ARS News Service has this story about the work of Hawaiian Agricultural Research Service scientists to manage populations of non-native fruit flies. The Hawaii Area-Wide Fruit Fly Integrated Pest Management Program teaches farmers to implement biological controls, field sanitation protocols, and integrated pest management. Using the techniques, some farmers have been able to cut back significantly on the amount of pesticides they normally use, and can plant crops that were previously considered difficult and costly due to damage caused by fruit flies.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Pluck Your Magic Twanger, Froggy!

A search has begun in New Zealand for the invasive banjo frog (Limnodynastes dumerilii) after a woman thought she heard the distinctive twanging call of the Australian amphibians. According to this article from, while no banjo frogs have been discovered so far, the woman resides in Huia, the town where tadpoles of that species were reported several years ago. On a related but decidedly unscientific note, I cannot help but link to this cute drawing.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting a link to the article.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

New in the Literature

Recently published journal articles:

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Knotweed or Not? has this AP article describing the problems Oregon is having with knotweed. Unfortunately the common name "knotweed" is used to refer to any number of species, so the general reader will have no idea what plant the article is referring to. You can tell that whatever it is, it's invasive, it has hollow stems, and The Nature Conservancy wants to use herbicide injections to get rid of it. Luckily, your expert ISW reporter can narrow it down for you. They're likely talking about Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica or Polygonum cuspidatum). But they might also be talking about its gigantic but less common cousin, Giant knotweed (F. sachalinensis), or the hybrid between these species, F. x bohemica. Or maybe even Himalayan knotweed (Polygonum polystachum). All of these knotweed species are currently making their presence known in the Pacific Northwest. Whichever it is, best of luck to TNC on their control project.

Monday, February 02, 2004


In response to the discovery of 16 trees with suspicious looking "exit wounds," officials in Fairfax County, Virginia are getting ready to remove almost 200 ash trees by this spring. As reported by the Washington Post, the reason behind the extreme reaction is the fear that the trees are infested with the dreaded emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus planipennis). The trees in question were purchased from a nursery in southeast Michigan, an area which is now under quarantine because of the ash borer invasion. If beetles are found, this would be the first known occurence of that invasive species in the state of Virginia. You can review the history of the emerald ash borer in the U.S. through previous ISW posts.

Thanks to a member of the Yahoo! group ma-eppc for posting a link to the article.

Sunday, February 01, 2004


When I was at the supermarket the last week, looking to refill my pepper grinder, I found out two interesting things: 1) gourmet peppercorn blends often contain little true pepper and 2) those same blends can contain the invasive species Brazilian pepperbush (Schinus terebinthifolius). The bottle of McCormick's "Peppercorn Mélange" actually prints the scientific name of the plant in the ingredient list (You can see a photo of the product here). McCormick lists the berries, usually referred to in the spice trade as "Pink Peppercorns," as from the Island of Réunion. While the shrubs are cultivated on that island, which is located in the Indian Ocean, inhabitants are also apparently dealing with a major invasion. I'm going to try germinating some of the seeds from bottle I bought, and will post my results here in the ISW.