For the Michigan DNR, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and DEQ invasive species profiles, watch lists and other important information visit: Michigan.gov Invasive Species Website
Fix an eye to the horizon down any road and witness the devastating effect of our recent encounter with the Emerald Ash Borer, a jewel beetle native to Asia that has wiped out our native ash trees. An invasive species is not just any species that we deem a nuisance, it is by definition a non-native species whose introduction causes economic and environmental damage or harm to human health. These species lack the natural predators and diseases that keep our native populations in balance with the ecosystem, thus allowing an extreme competitive advantage that ultimately results in the altering of an ecosystem. Invasive species can be plants, animals, insects, fungi, you name it, if it lives, its potentially invasive somewhere on the planet. Invasive species are negatively impacting nearly every aspect of our interaction with the natural world from water quality and outdoor recreation, to fisheries and forestry.
While many of the effects of invasive species are direct and apparent, such as the girdling of trees by the Asian Longhorned Beetle or the swift death of oak wilt in a red oak stand, other effects are not so obvious but are equally as detrimental. For example, the spread of garlic mustard into a forest concentrates deer browsing on the dwindling supply of their preferred native species resulting in reduced seedling recruitment above the browse line and into the canopy, which eventually alters the composition and structure of a forest. The full and long term ecological impacts of invasive species are of course not yet known.
What Can You Do?
Stay tuned to Michigan DNR Forest Health updates. Keep up on the latest invasive species information. Learn how to identify these problem species or signs of their presence and how to distinguish them from native pests. Monitor your property, especially during the growing season.
If you suspect a forest health issue, document the occurrence, take photographs of the damage. Contact your local extension office or conservation district for assistance.
The early detection and rapid response to the introduction of the 3 following species is critical to their control and eradication, be on the lookout, check host trees & report if you suspect the invasive species is present on your property.
– Asian Longhorned Beetle (Pest of Maple, Birch, Poplar and Willow. Not yet found in Michigan)
– Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Pest of Hemlock. Local populations found in West Michigan)
– Thousand Canker Disease of Walnut (Not yet found in Michigan)
Other invasive species with significant impacts on natural communities:
– Oak Wilt (Common in Northern Michigan)
– Garlic Mustard (Common in Southern Michigan)
– Japanese Knotweed (Sparse populations throughout Michigan)
Interested in treating the invasive plants on your property?
Learn to identify, map and treat invasive species through the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network
The best defense is maintaining a healthy and productive forest with a diversity of species and different age classes. Plant the right tree at the right site by matching appropriate site conditions; soils and shade tolerance, and checking the native range. This simple process will save you countless headaches and reduce the spread of disease and infestation.
Burn firewood where you buy it. Treat infestations where they occur. Clean boots and equipment when travelling from an area infested with invasive plants. Plant native species, monitor your property for infestations and stay informed!
Montcalm County is part of the West Michigan Cluster of the Stewardship Network and is involved with the mapping and treating of invasive plant species.