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Look for Invasive Species

Some of our invasive species will soon be noticeable in natural areas. An early-season hike in the woods or other natural area might help you observe some of these plant species, and you may also observe why they are a problem.

A few of the plant species to look for in spring through early summer include garlic mustard, Asian bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and Japanese knotweed. If you’re looking for some good exercise this spring, find yourself a patch of garlic mustard before it goes to seed and start pulling, then dispose of the plant material. Invite several of your friends to join you.

Invasive plants, insects and other organisms are challenging our local ecosystems by out-competing or decimating native populations. This impacts native plants, insects, birds, fish and wildlife. And, subsequently, it impacts everyone who wishes to better manage, enjoy and appreciate natural areas. Invasive insects and diseases have also attacked agricultural, forest and horticultural crops, causing economic damage. (Some are present in the U.S., but have not made their way to Indiana yet; e.g. spotted lanternfly).

Purdue Extension has long had helpful information about invasive species in various locations across our system. A centralized first stop is the “Report Invasive Species” website at

It’s important to note that not all non-native species are bad – some behave themselves just fine in our environment and have naturalized to some extent.

For species that don’t behave, local residents can report invasive species by calling the Invasive Species hotline at 1-866-NO-EXOTIC (1-866-663-9684) or using the free Great Lakes Early Detection Network smartphone app, which can be downloaded on iTunes or GooglePlay. Purdue has put together a YouTube video to demonstrate how easily the app can be used to alert authorities: You can also email

If you are one who manages or enjoys natural areas, I encourage you to become more aware and knowledgeable of invasive species, and to identify steps you can take to minimize their impact on ecosystems. Here are a few tips:

  • Clean hiking boots, waders, boats and trailers, off-road vehicles and other gear to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location.
  • Avoid dumping aquariums or live bait into waterways.
  • Don’t move firewood – instead, buy it where you’ll burn it, or gather on site when permitted.
  • Plant only non-invasive plants in your garden and landscape, and remove any known invaders. This does not mean everything has to be native, but it should not be invasive.
  • Report new or expanded invasive species outbreaks to authorities.

For more information on invasive species, see the websites below:

  • Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

  • Indiana Native Plant Society:

  • Midwest Invasive Plant Network:

For more information on invasive plant species in forest habitats, access the Purdue publication FNR-230-W, Invasive Plant Species in Hardwood Tree Plantations, at

National invasive species awareness week involves two separate weeks: Feb. 22-26 is an information and advocacy week, and the outreach and education week will be observed May 15-22, 2021. Find out more at

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