Saturday, October 30, 2004

Algal Ban?

Right now only the Mediterranean clone of the marine alga Caulerpa taxifolia is a federally listed noxious weed (.pdf). Do you think the entire species should be listed, or even the entire genus of Caulerpa? More than one hundred scientists and concerned citizens have signed petitions to this effect, and now there is a sixty day comment period for anyone to weigh in with his/her opinion. Details are here.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Buy Online

USA Today has this report about the sale of invasive plants and noxious weeds via the internet. Not much new here, but a good summary. It remians true that the responsibility of checking whether a non-native species is invasive or even illegal to own is frequently placed on the consumer. Also, the U.S. is in need of a better way for sellers to keep up with which states have lists and when those lists are updated. So congrats to all you consumers out there reading this for furthering your education!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Hello Old Friend

Seems our native Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) has secretly been vacationing in the Orient. As reported by, the goldenrod has been used an an ornamental in China since the 1930s, and has since escaped into the wild and become invasive. Researchers, noting its propensity to displace native plants, are calling for its eradication. Bonus points to China Daily for using the plant's scientific name.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Another Emerald City

Michigan's emerald ash borer beetle ( Agrilus planipennis) invasion has been restricted to only the most southeastern parts of the state...until now. The Traverse City Record-Eagle is reporting that a beetle infestation was found in a group of ash trees in Petroskey, a city in Emmet County that is on the northwest tip of the lower half of the state. State workers are currently developing a response plan, which is likely to include removal of all ash trees in the area.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)

A mussel from South America recently reappeared in Florida, according to this NAS alert. An established population of the Charru mussel (Mytella charruana), which has not been seen in Florida since 1986, has been discovered on a dock in Mosquito Lagoon. Not much information about this species on the internet, here's hoping it doesn't turn out to be the next zebra mussel.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Squeeze Play

CNN International has this report about the naturalization of the Burmese python (Python molarus bivittatus) in the Florida Everglades. Scientists think the snakes, which can live more than two decades, were released by people who no longer wanted them as pets. Now breeding populations have been found, and no one's sure what the impact will be, though it's likely to be bad for the birds and small mammals, and good for the hungry alligators.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I was going to prepare a post about the rat problem in Atascaderos, Mexico, but then I found that Caitlin over at Cat Out Loud has done it so much better. Go read it, it's good stuff.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Frog Baseball!!!!!

The Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) seems to be expanding its North American range, according to this report from CNN. This is potentially bad news for Georgia, which is thought to have remained Cuban tree frog-free for almost a century after the species was introduced to Florida. Scientists had previously thought the northern limit for the species was Jacksonville, Florida - 120 miles south. The amphibian, now the largest tree frog on the continent, thrives in human-altered habitats like fish ponds, porches, and wells. Bonus points to the Georgia woman who discovered the fist-sized frog by her pond, identified it online, and then caught it and preserved it in a bottle of alcohol.

What does baseball have to do with this story? Uh, nothing, heh heh, heh heh (Go Sox!).

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

00:14:55 and Counting

Tonight at 10pm EST, a photo I took will appear briefly in Law & Order: SVU, in an episode titled "Scavenger"...or, someone has played a bizarre practical joke on me. Either way, I am bragging about it here in the ISW because the photo is of an invasive plant. When I came across the species in Italy back in 1999, my guide book called it Himalayan balsam, but in the U.S. it is known more frequently by the name "Policeman's Helmet" (which likely explains it's inclusion in the episode). A large annual plant, Impatiens glandulifera is native to the Himalayas, and invasive in Europe, the western U.S. and Canada. You can see my photo of the flower, whose shape resembles that of the old-style British policeman's helmet, by going here and scrolling down to the bottom of the page.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Getting Drunk on Invasives

While searching for something totally unrelated, I came across this recipe for Japanese knotweed wine. Is there nothing we humans won't try to turn into booze? :-)

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Lecture on Plant Vectors

Time is running out, but you still have one day left to register for my "Vectors of Invasion" lecture at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, MA. Topics covered will include the past, present, and future of plant invasions, and how plants are introduced vs. how they spread. The lecture will be held this Monday, Oct. 18, from 7-9pm, and you have to register in advance, so call the New England Wildflower Society at 508-877-7630, ext. 3303. or email them at "registrar AT" If you can't make this one, the link above describes two more talks I'll be giving in November and December.

Friday, October 15, 2004

What a Croc

From Reuters comes this odd blurb about the potential release of crocodiles in Israel. Hundreds of baby African crocodiles were stolen from a farm that breeds them for their skins. While the goal of the robbers was likely to sell the babies as pets to Israelis, officials are concerned that some of the crocs will be released into local lakes and rivers, where they will be a potential cause of harm for humans and animals alike. It is illegal to own a crocodile as a pet in Israel. You can read more about this story from

Thursday, October 14, 2004

My Kind of Town

This is my fourth post about snakeheads this month, but how could I avoid reporting that the Northern snakehead (Channa argus) has been found in Chicago? The email about it arrived in my inbox today via the NAS Alert System - you can view the specimen record here. The adult fish was found in Lake Michigan, a first for Illinois and a first for the Great Lakes ecosystem. Of course the story is making the media rounds, with liberal use of words like "Frankenfish" and "terror." Read about it in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Duluth News-Tribune, or

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Weeds Under Control?

The Noxious Weed Control Act is just a few steps away from being signed into law. The NWCA, also known as S. 144, creates a program under the Secretary of Agriculture that will provide federal assistance (read: $$) to weed management agencies fighting noxious weeds. Spearheaded by Idaho Senator Larry Craig, the bill was passed unanimously by the Senate, and is now on its way to President word on whether he plans to sign it or not. You can read the full press release here.

For this bill, "Noxious Weed" is defined as it was in the Plant Protection Act (pdf) passed in 2000: "The term ‘‘noxious weed’’ means any plant or plant product that can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to crops (including nursery stock or plant products), livestock, poultry, or other interests of agriculture, irrigation, navigation, the natural resources of the United States, the public health, or the environment." So while it is likely that a great amount of resources would go towards agricultural weeds (this was wholeheartedly supported by Idaho after all), projects involving threatened natural resources would also qualify.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

They've been slimed

Looks like the West coast is dealing with their own sea squirt invasion. As reported by the Seattle Post Intelligencer, a colony of Didemnum lahillei was recently discovered in Edmonds Underwater Park, located in Puget Sound. This is apparently the same species of sea squirt found in the East coast's Georges Bank last year. Divers have been enlisted to isolate the tunicates with plastic and dispence chlorine tablets to eradicate them. Bonus points to the Post-Intelligencer for using the sea squirt's scientific name.

Monday, October 11, 2004

A Mitey Rose

Seems there's more to the multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) than its weedy ways. According to this report from, a mite that is found on multiflora rose is causing garden roses to keel over. The tiny wingless Eriophyoid mite (Phyllocoptes fructiphilus) is a vector for rose rosette disease (RRD), which affects multiflora rose and has spread to planted rose species as well. There is no known cure once a plant is infected. The organism that causes RRD was once considered for use as a biological control of the multiflora rose.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Night of the Frankenfish

Last night I watched "Snakehead Terror" and about half of "Frankenfish" on the Sci-Fi Channel. That's 3 hours of my life I'll never get back :-( "Snakehead Terror" starred Bruce 'I'll never get another role like the one I had on B5' Boxleitner, and was about a lake that sounded a lot like Crofton Pond in Maryland. After poisoning the pond ruined the livelihood of many of the town's businesspeople, a few of them got together and decided to add Human Growth Hormone to the water to speed up the growth of the new fish. Unfortunately there were rotenone-resistant snakeheads still in the lake, and HGH caused them to grow eight feet long and to crave human flesh. "Frankenfish" seemed to be about an ecccentric trophy hunter who paid Asian gangmembers (Snakeheads?) to release a gigantic snakehead into the swamps of New Orleans. I'm not exactly sure though, because I fell asleep after the second houseboat owner met his demise :-).

Saturday, October 09, 2004

ImportAnt News

The Premier of Taiwan announced earlier in the week that he wants red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) eradicated from that country by 2007. As reported by CNA News, a team made up of members from several different government agencies will be assembled to unertake this great task.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Tahr Little, Tahr Late

Last April the ISW posted about the removal of Himalayan tahrs (Hemitragus jemlahicus) from a mountain in South Africa. Now IOL is reporting that the tahrs are all gone, a fact which has upset the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Seems the IFAW was hoping to help save the remaining animals by moving them to a safe haven, but was told that it was already too late.

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

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Many news sources, including the Detroit Free Press, are reporting that the House of Representatives has approved funding for a permanent electrical barrier to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The measure passed allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend more than $8 million to finish the construction project, which was started several months ago. Apparently they needed a bit more money than the $4 million the Army Corps almost took away a while back.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Expat.telegraph is reporting that there is a new invasive insect in the UK, one "with the potential to wipe out half of Britain's native species." And this species is...a ladybug? Yes, the Asian lady beetle, also known as the Harlequin ladybird beetle (Harmonia axyridis), was discovered a couple of weeks ago in a garden in Britain. The article is referring to the loss of native ladybug species, by the way, not the whole of the UK's flora and fauna. Scientists hypothesized that the beetle was blown across the English Channel by the wind. Read more about Asian ladybugs from previous ISW posts.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Coochie Coochie Coo

From the absurdly gigantic to the tiny, and dare I say, cute? Just because it faded away from the front page, doesn't mean the snakehead problem in the Potomac River has gone away. The Washington Post is now reporting that a 3-inch-young northern snakehead (Channa argus) has been discovered near Alexandria, Virginia, an indiciation that the species in breeding in the wild. For background about the Potomac invasion from the ISW, click here.

Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for a heads up about this story.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Return of Frankenfish

Sci-Fi Channel is at it again. Not content with it's own version of snakehead fish (Channa spp.) gone wild, this weekend they're airing "Frankenfish," a charming tale about escaped mutated fish that attack houseboats in a Louisiana bayou. Don't worry, if you missed Sci-Fi's "Snakehead Terror" a few months back, they'll be airing it again right before the "Frankenfish" premiere.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Better Homes and Gardens

The National Wildlife Federation and eNature recently debuted their Native Gardening and Invasive Plants Guide. In it, you'll not only find lists of known and potential invasive plants in your state, but also lists of native species you might find to be better alternatives for your own garden. The listmakers have apparently erred on the side of caution, as there are a few species on the Massachusetts list that are either not likely to be planted (dodder? perennial pepperweed?) or to be invasive here (melaleuca?), but this is nonetheless a great resource.

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

Saturday, October 02, 2004


The Yard & Garden Line News, an informative e-newsletter put out by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, has an interesting feature this month, about three different pests that have recently shown up in yards & gardens. Click on the link to read about two insects and a species of slug that appear to be new to the Minnesota landscape.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Talking Trash

The invasion of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica, Polygonum cuspidatum, etc.) at a landfill in Orleans, Massachusetts is about to become a lot more than just a nuisance. According this story from The Cape Codder, the town is set to start taking bids to have the landfill capped. Unfortunately, one of the most amazing and annoying things about knotweed is that it can grow right through things like concrete and asphalt. So capping the landfill with a clay liner is likely to leave it susceptible to damage as the knotweed breaks through. The article says most of the knotweed has been removed with a combination of herbicide application, drying out, and cutting - here's hoping they've done a thorough job.