National Invasive Species Awareness Week Brings Attention to Local Invasive Species
National Invasive Species Awareness week takes place Feb. 28-March 4, and Northern Michigan invasive species programs say it’s important for people to be aware of the types of species on their properties.
“The big thing about raising awareness is to get people to recognize what they may have on their own property, so they don’t inadvertently spread it from there,” said North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) Program Coordinator Vicki Sawicki. “A lot of times we see people mismanaging invasive species, which causes bigger problems on their property, that can even destroy their infrastructure, their foundations of their homes and their septic fields, so it’s really important to know what they’re dealing with.”
Each county in Northern Michigan has a cooperative invasive species management program, who assists in questions and management of invasive species.
“We always encourage people to reach out with any questions about invasive species because if we don’t know the answer we’re going to know somebody who can give get them answer for you,” said Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) Coordinator Audrey Menninga.
These programs have priority invasive species, such as Garlic Mustard, Knotweeds, and Wild Parsnip, that they consider higher threats to the local environment and wildlife.
“They’re actually a contributing factor to some of the lack of biodiversity in some ecosystems, because they can just outcompete the native species,” said Menninga. “Now that you have an invasive species-dominated ecosystem, it doesn’t support the same kind of wildlife and insects and birds and mammals that a healthy native ecosystem would.”
Their best advice—report what you see.
“We really contain a lot of these outliers, so it’s super important that we stop their spread right now so we don’t wind up with losing huge areas to invasive species,” said Sawicki. “It’s really about preserving the beauty of this area for future generations.”
The gypsy moth is getting a new common name—ending the use of ‘gypsy’ as a derogative term.
The gypsy moth with now be known as the spongy moth, and it’s part of long time efforts from the Entomological Society of America to change derogatory names.
Its new name comes from the sponge-like egg masses the caterpillars lay.
“Being able to take these steps is really great to be able to acknowledge that language changes, and sometimes we need to change them too,” said Menninga. “A lot of times, you know, when people say it doesn’t have that many connotations, it does, actually, and it can have some bad effects.”
You can contact either the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network or the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area to report an invasive species near you, or to find out more about local invasive species.
They also reccommend using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network app to report invasive species, as well.