Invasive Species - Rochester, NY area

Consider why the Invasive Species issue is important to Rochesterians and our environment. Also, as our regions warms because of Climate Change many invasive species will have an unfair advantage over our endemic plants and animals.    

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Page Contents: Invasive Species NewslinksInvasive Species & Climate Change | Zebra Mussels | Actions | Resources | Invasive Plants | Invasive Wildlife | Education on Invasive Species |Essays on Invasive Species |


We should be aware of the various invasive species in our area because they can wreak havoc.  When an invasive species arrives, they usually do not have any natural enemies and they can, over time, change our area's ecology. 

Purple LoosestrifeThe Purple Loosestrife, for example was brought to North America from Europe as a decorative plant spices, which it is, but it now covers our fields, pushing out endemic plant species, which in turn changes our pollinating insects many of which do not have any use for this new plant. Our Rochester area is not immune from the environmental problem of invasive species. This page points out some the invasive species in our area, including plants and animals, resources to find out more about this issue, and recent news stories about them in our local media.

What’s the harm? Find out about invasive species in our area, what they are, why you should care, and what you can do about them.  Brought in or slipped in, either way they challenge our environment. Invasive Species: Information, Images, Videos, Distribution Maps The Global Invasive Species Team... part of The Nature Conservancy's response to abating the damage caused to native biodiversity by the human-facilitated introduction of non-native, harmful invasive species. This web site provides many resources designed to help all conservationists deal most effectively with invasive species.

* I’ve known that Invasive Species are a problem in our region, but I didn’t know that New York State was a major hub for this kind of environmental problem. New York should be especially concerned with educating the public and learning how to deal with this situation: “With some of the busiest airports and ports in the United States, New York has far more invasive species of certain types than any other state, federal officials say.” Downside of Being a Global Hub: Invasive Species Some are disarmingly named, like the cutesy Chinese mitten crab. Others have names more indicative of their undesirable nature, like rock snot, an algae that slimes up cool forest streams. They are some of more than 100 invasive species that conservationists must battle in New York State, which teems with a growing number of plants, birds, fish, insects, mosses, molds and fungi that actually belong somewhere else. With some of the busiest airports and ports in the United States, New York has far more invasive species of certain types than any other state, federal officials say. Carried inside airplane wheels or in the ballast water of large boats, many creatures and spores show up in New York first, making it a laboratory of sorts where scientists and others strive to devise methods to banish the outsiders or risk losing native flora and fauna to invading hordes. (February 8, 2017) New York Times [more on Invasive Species in our area]

Climate Change is gong to make solving the Invasive Species issue far more intense:

Combating invasive species in Rochester, NY during Climate Change

While we continue to battle the Emerald Ash Borer(EAB) that is devastating our ash trees, we should ponder the issue of invasive species as our Rochester, NY region warms.  This is alarming because ash trees are almost 8% of all trees in NY State.  Back in 2008 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) put out a public comment on trying to stop this bug that was making its way north, but by 2011 we had our first sighting. We have since enacted lawsprohibiting the transporting of firewood and many learned how to save some favorite ash trees (a chemical inoculation), but this is a battle we are going to lose.  By the time you notice infestations like the EAB, it’s probably too late to do anything but control the rate of tree loss.  On top of that,Climate Change will allow the EAB to spread faster.

Also, looming over our Great Lake’s water is the probable infestation of the Asian Carp that could potentially transform the lakes’ ecology.  A species like the Asian Carp is able to do this by stripping the food web of plankton, the lakes’ fundamental resource (from National Wildlife’s The Asian Carp Threat to the Great Lakes.)  We’ve known for years that the carp has been making its way up the Mississippi River towards our precious waters. And we’ve tried many ways to stop it from entering the Great Lakes, but the inconsistent funding to thwart its infestation means we’re probably going to get them any day now.  (Some, who are checking Great Lakes’ water for carp DNA, think they’re already here.) 

And it all makes you wonder: When is a good time to start planning for invasive species?For example, when should we have started searching for the Zebra Mussel, an invader from the Baltic Sea that made its way to the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes via ships’ ballast tanks coming through the St. Lawrence Seaway?  Should we have considered all possible hitchhikers that might make it to the Great Lakes, from all parts of the world, then try and figure out which ones would be the most likely threats?  Seems impossibly daunting.  more...


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Invasive Species and Climate Change

Understanding how Climate Change will increase the threat of Invasive Species to our region is critical.  Below are either Climate Change studies on  Invasive Species in our region, or parts of studies.

  • 'Invasive Species' (Pages 186 & 187 of Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID)Responding to Climate Change in New York state: the ClimAid integrated assessment for effective Climate Change adaptation in New York state (November 2011)
  • Responses of insect pests, pathogens, and invasive plant species to climate change in the forests of northeastern North America: What can we predict? "Abstract: Climate models project that by 2100, the northeastern US and eastern Canada will warm by approximately 3– 5 8 C, with increased winter precipitation. These changes will affect trees directly and also indirectly through effects on ‘‘nuisance’’ species, such as insect pests, pathogens, and invasive plants. We review how basic ecological principles can be used to predict nuisance species’ responses to climate change and how this is likely to impact northeastern forests. We then examine in detail the potential responses of two pest species (hemlock woolly adelgid ( Adelges tsugae Annand) and forest tent caterpillar ( Malacosoma disstria Hubner)), two pathogens (armillaria root rot ( Armillaria spp.) and beech bark disease ( Cryptococcus fagisuga Lind. + Neonectria spp.)), and two invasive plant species (glossy buckthorn ( Frangula alnus Mill.) and oriental bittersweet ( Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb.)). Several of these species are likely to have stronger or more widespread effects on forest composition and structure under the projected climate. However, uncertainty pervades our predictions because we lack adequate data on the species and because some species depend on complex, incompletely understood, unstable relationships. While targeted research will increase our confidence in making predictions, some un certainty will always persist. Therefore, we encourage policies that allow for this uncertainty by considering a wide range of possible scenarios." Can. J. For. Res. 39 : 231–248 (2009) doi:10.1139/X08-171 Published by NRC Research Press
  • HOW ARE NUISANCE SPECIES OF NORTHEAST FORESTS RESPONDING TO CLIMATE CHANGE? "Summary: Pests, pathogens, and invasive plants are already among the leading causes of disturbance to forests of North America and may become more severe as climate changes. Reviews of the known biological responses of six nuisance species predict that fi ve will become more widespread, more abundant, or have more severe impacts in Northeast forests as the climate changes (Table 6). Th e increase in the severity and expanded range of nuisance species will likely add to the stress that forest ecosystems will face in the next century. "  (Pages 32 -35, Changing Climate, Changing Forests: The Impacts of Climate Change on Forests of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada (2012 USDA)


Meet the Asian Carp -- an Amazing Invasive Species Invasive Asian carp are threatening the Great Lakes. Environmental Defence has released a new report about this threat, detailing solutions governments, communities and individuals can take to stop the advance of this invasive species. Find out more at [more on Invasive Species in our area]

Action on Invasive Species

What you can do about invasive species in the Rochester, NY area.

  • Locate Invasive Species in our area: The Invasive Plant Council of NYS IPC has developed an Early Detection list for each of the eight PRISM regions in the state (see PRISM map at bottom of page). Each of the plants listed below is on the Early Detection List for one or more PRISMs.
  • Don't be the cause of Invasive Species: New York State Integrated Pest Management Program: We develop sustainable ways to manage pests and help people to use methods that minimize environmental, health, and economic risks.


Finger Lakes- Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (FL-PRISM) "Seventeen Counties, Five Working Groups, (Agricultural, Aquatic, Education and Outreach, Terrestrial, and Steering Committee), and multiple partners, the Finger Lakes-PRISM Mission is: To reduce the introduction, spread, and impact of invasive species within the Finger Lakes PRISM region through coordinated education, detection, prevention, and control measures. "



Invasive Species Resources

Several branches of government address our on-going issue with invasive species

  • FINAL REPORT of the NEW YORK STATE INVASIVE SPECIES TASK FORCE Fall 2005 "In response to the growing problem of invasive species, in 2003, Governor Pataki signed legislation sponsored by Senator Marcellino and Assemblyman DiNapoli. Chapter 324 of the Laws of New York of 2003 called for an Invasive Species Task Force to explore the invasive species issue and to provide recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature by November 2005. The statute describes the intended membership of the Task Force and directs that it be co-led by two New York State agencies: Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM "
  • Nuisance & Invasive Species - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Invasive species are non-native species that can cause harm to the environment or to human health. As a threat to our biodiversity, they have been judged second only to habitat loss. Invasives come from all around the world; the rate of invasion is increasing along with the increase in international trade that accompanies globalization. Invasive species have caused many problems in the past, are causing problems now, and pose threats to our future. A wide variety of species are problematic for many sectors of our world: our ecosystems, including both all natural systems and also managed forests; our food supply, including not only agriculture but also harvested wildlife, fish and shellfish; our built environments, including landscaping, infrastructure, industry, gardens, and pets. Invasive species have implications, too, for recreation and for human health.

  • National Invasive Species Information Center National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC): gateway to invasive species information; covering Federal, State, local, and international sources.
  • The New York Invasive Species Information Website - NYIS.INFO and its host, the New York Invasive Species Clearinghouse, [the two are jointly referred to as NYIS.INFO] were founded in October 2008. NYIS.INFO is funded with New York State Environmental Protection Fund resources through a contract with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. NYIS.INFO was established in response to Recommendation 5 of the November 2005 report of the New York State Invasive Species Task Force report to the Governor and Legislature. The Task Force recommended that the State should integrate invasive species databases and information clearinghouses. This resulted in the creation of the invasive species database and mapping project iMapInvasives and the information clearinghouse project, NYIS.INFO.
  • Invasive Species | Oceans, Coasts and Estuaries | US EPA Invasive species means an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. Invasive species are one of the largest threats to our terrestrial, coastal and freshwater ecosystems, as well as being a major global concern. Invasive species can affect aquatic ecosystems directly or by affecting the land in ways that harm aquatic ecosystems. Invasive species represent the second leading cause of species extinction and loss of biodiversity in aquatic environments worldwide
  • NY Invasive Species Welcome to NYIS.INFO, the website of the NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse. NYIS.INFO is your gateway to science-based information, breaking news, and new and innovative tools to prevent, detect, control and manage biological invaders in New York. NYIS.INFO links scientific research, State and Federal management programs and policy information, outreach education and grassroots invasive species action to help you become part of the battle against invasive species in and around New York.
  • The Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN) "Aggregating and disseminating invasive species data in a standardized way. The Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN) provides a platform for sharing invasive species information at a global level, via the Internet. You can search, browse, and download data from the menu on the left. To provide data to GISIN, you'll want to click on the first 3 sign posts below."
  • Invasive Species | USGS Great Lakes Science Center Since the 1800’s, over 136 species of exotic algae, fish, invertebrates, and plants have become established in the Great Lakes. As human activity has increased in the region, particularly with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the rate of successful introduction of exotic species has surged. More than 1/3 of these invasive organisms werDEC Firewoode introduced since the 1960s and many now dominate the aquatic community in both numbers and biomass. The most problematic invasive species include alewife, common carp, Eurasian ruffe, Eurasian water milfoil, purple loosestrife, quagga mussel, rainbow smelt, round goby, rusty crayfish, sea lamprey, spiny waterflea, and the zebra mussel. These species alone have contributed to massive extinctions of native fauna, severe alterations in local food webs, and the zebra mussel alone has resulted in millions of dollars of damage to local water users such as municipalities and industries. While many of these exotics have been in the Great Lakes for over a decade, recent increases in disease outbreaks (e.g., botulism and thiamine deficiency syndrome); blue-green algal blooms; loss of key invertebrates such as Diporeia in lakes Michigan, Ontario, and Huron; decline in recruitment and body condition of important native fish such as lake whitefish in Lake Huron; and an expansion of the “dead zone” in Lake Erie, indicate severe ongoing ecosystem oscillations in many parts of the Great Lakes.
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • National Aquatic Invasive Species Database
  • - Leading the way in Asian carp control and management. "Welcome to, where you can find up-to-date information on the efforts to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. Interest and involvement from the public is essential to preventing the spread of this formidable invasive species. We hope this site provides a useful tool for you learn more about Asian carp, as well as the multi-tiered and collaborative actions underway to keep them from establishing in the Great Lakes, and how you can participate in this effort. "
  • Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Aquatic Invasive Species… Are non-native plants, animals, and pathogens Live primarily in water Thrive in a new environment Cause economic loss, environmentaldamage, and harm to human health Thanks to the statewide cooperation of citizens, recreationalists, tourism industries, businesses, and agencies, less than 1% of Minnesota's waters are infested with AIS like zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil. With 15,000 lakes, thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and acres of wetlands to protect, Minnesotans recognize the importance of acting to prevent and slow the spread of the state's current and potential AIS. Public awareness and actions are essential to preventing the spread of AIS spread. Through research and public education, Minnesota Sea Grant is working to curtail the spread of AIS and manage existing invaders more effectively. -from Minnesota Sea Grant


Fantastic full length film (24 minutes) on the invasive species the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid that is destroying our Hemlock forests, which is to say one of our crucial ecosystems. (Find out how Little Larry (a bio-control species) might help us address this issue.) Learn about several local invasive species, what is being done about them, and what you can do to help. "The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid – A Film About The Loss Of An Ecosystem"


"The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid – A Film About The Loss Of An Ecosystem" is an education film to engage, raise awareness, and create momentum on this destructive forest pest and invasive species in general. The goal of this project is to make the hemlock woolly adelgid a more common household name. Learn more by reading our full synopsis.

Invasive Plants

A list of plants that are invasive to our area 

  • Invasive Plants "The Invasive Plants website contains information on invasive plants, their impact on native species, and their control (particularly biological control). The web pages focus on work conducted by students and staff of the Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program, directed by Bernd Blossey, at Cornell University. The majority of our work concerns species and ecosystems in northeastern North America, but most species we work with are distributed widely through North America. We invite you to explore this website and to participate or contribute to ongoing research projects."
  • Welcome to the Purple Pages! "This is the homepage of the Purple Loosestrife Project at Michigan State University. Explore these pages to learn more about our biological control project, which engages citizens and young adults in the control of purple loosestrife using the plant’s own natural enemies.
  • Purple Loosestrife InfoCentre-- an excellent resource for finding about the Purple Loosestrife, recent new stories on this issue, and photos also
  • Purple Loosestrife at Montezuma   "Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge has been, and will remain, a key area for research on the management and control of purple loosestrife. In part, this is due to the fact that the refuge has suffered one of the nation's worst infestations of loosestrife over the past 45 years."
  • Pales Weevil - FIDL The pales weevil, Hylobius pales (Herbst),4 is the most serious insect pest of pine seedlings in the Eastern United States. Great numbers of adult weevils are attracted to freshly cutover pine lands where they breed in stumps and old root systems. Seedlings planted in freshly cut areas are injured or killed by adult weevils that feed on the stem bark. It is not uncommon to have 30 to 60 percent weevil-caused mortality among first-year seedlings in the South, and mortality of 90 percent or more has been recorded. In the North, pales weevil is also destructive to pine and other conifers grown for Christmas trees. --from Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry - USDA Forest Service
  • Hydrilla - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "Hydrilla is naturalised and invasive in the United States following release in the 1960s from aquariums into waterways in Florida. It is now established in the southeast from Connecticut to Texas, and also in California.[8] By the 1990s control and management were costing millions of dollars each year. "
  • European frog-bit Hydrocharis morsus-rana "Frogbit is native to Europe and parts of Asia, but it was introduced to Canada in the 1930s and has become invasive in eastern Canada and the northeastern USA, particularly around the Great Lakes. It is considered a pest in this region as it colonises waterways and forms dense masses of vegetation on the surface, threatening native biodiversity, although in its native areas it is rarely dominant. " Wikipedia
  • Giant Hogweed "Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a Federally listed noxious weed. Its sap, in combination with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness. Contact between the skin and the sap of this plant occurs either through brushing against the bristles on the stem or breaking the stem or leaves " The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • Black swallow-wort "Cynanchum louiseae, a species in the milkweed family, is also known as Black swallow-wort, Louise's swallow-wort.,[1] or Black dog-strangling vine,[2] Cynanchum louiseae is a species of plant that is native to Europe and is found primarily in Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain.[3] It is an invasive plant species in the northeastern United States, parts of the Midwest, southeastern Canada, and California. " Wikipedia

Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) "The US Army Corps of Engineers in collaboration with our study partners have published the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) White Paper: Non-Native Species of Concern and Dispersal Risk for the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study. The purpose of the ANS White Paper is to catalog potential non-native species within the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins and identify which ANS of concern will be an initial focus in GLMRIS. " Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS)

Green Isolationism

Isolationists, most notably George Washington in his farewell address “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible,” believe that one’s territory can be contained, one’s sovereignty sustained by removing oneself from the rest. And while it was probably wise council for a young nation to stay out of ‘political connections’ as we built our new nation, isolationism of any kind really is not possible in today’s world. Isolation is only an illusion, especially in our environment. Connections are the rule. A sand storm in Africa gives Central American’s asthma. 

What happens in Buffalo, or Quebec, or Pennsylvania (where the Genesee River begins), the Hudson River, the Adirondacks, Syracuse, and Ohio in terms of their pollution, their air quality, the species that have invaded them, global warming studies that they’ve done all make isolationism absurd. As the invasive Emerald Ash Borer makes its way into southern New York counties, we should prepare here. We should understand and share the information.

Americans pride ourselves on being unique, standing on one’s own, being free and allowed to pursue Happiness—as one envisions it. However, as time goes on, as we mature as a species, we are learning that what we do matters to others despite our best intensions. Only in our minds can we litter, pollute, overuse resources, and not affect every living thing on the planet. [One can get a sense of this in the 2004 film, “The Fever” where it dawns on an urban sophisticate that everything she does affects how others in other parts of the world live.] more...

Our area's open fields are becomming littered with this beautiful, but nuisance invasive species - Photo by Frank J. Regan

Closeup of the Purple Loosestrife - Photo by Frank J. Regan

above scripts from Dynamic Drive

Invasive Wildlife

A list of invasive wildlife species that are invading our region...

  • Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee Leading the way in Asian carp control and management. "The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee with support from federal, state, and local agencies, and other private stakeholder entities, will create a sustainable Asian carp control program to prevent introduction and implement actions to protect and maintain the integrity and safety of the Great Lakes ecosystem from an Asian carp invasion via all viable pathways. The goals and actions of the ACRCC are outlined in the 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework and the 2011 Monitoring and Rapid Response plan. "
  • Emerald Ash Borer - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Please note: If you have ash trees, stop and learn more before you act. The potential threat of emerald ash borer (EAB) is real; however, acting without understanding the specific threat to your trees, regulations and quarantines, and your options, could cause the unnecessary loss of treasured shade trees, or loss of substantial income from your woodlot.
  • Emerald Ash Borer This Web site is part of a multinational effort in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Canada to bring you the latest information about emerald ash borer.
  • Zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, are small, fingernail-sized, freshwater mollusks accidentally introduced to North America via ballast water from a transoceanic vessel. Since their introduction in the mid 1980s, they have spread rapidly to all of the Great Lakes and an increasing number of inland waterways in the United States and Canada. This invasive species represents what happens when an invasive species takes hold in a area, as I have watched the progress of this species since the mid 1980's.  Now many of our lakes have been redefined by the Zebra Mussel, their ecology forever changed.
  • Northern snakehead - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "The northern snakehead (Channa argus) is a type of snakehead fish native to China, Russia, and Korea. In the United States, the fish is considered to be a highly invasive species. In a well-known incident, several were found in a pond in Crofton, Maryland in June 2002, which led to major media coverage and two movies about the incident, Snakehead Terror and Frankenfish. "
  • Feral Swine - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation "Many people are aware of the feral swine problem in southern states like Texas and Florida, but these animals are also a growing problem in New York. Also called feral pigs, feral hogs, wild boar, wild hogs, razorbacks, Eurasian wild boar, and Russian wild boar, feral swine are a harmful and destructive invasive species. "
  • Gypsy Moth -FIDL "The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar Linnaeus, is one of the most notorious pests of hardwood trees in the Eastern United States. Since 1980, the gypsy moth has defoliated close to a million or more forested acres each year. In 1981, a record 12.9 million acres were defoliated. This is an area larger than Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut combined. "
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Alert The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a serious pest of hemlock in the northeastern United States.
  • Hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), commonly abbreviated as HWA, is a true bug native to East Asia that feeds by sucking sap from hemlock trees (Tsuga spp.). In eastern North America, it is a destructive pest that poses a major threat to the eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and the Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) - Wikipedia
  • Asian Clam "Corbicula fluminea is a species of freshwater clam, an aquatic bivalve mollusk in the family Corbiculidae. This species is of originally mainly Asian origin and thus it is often commonly called Asian clam or Asiatic clam. In the aquarium and koi pond trade it is often called Golden Clam or Golden Freshwater Clam. In Southeast Asia it is known as the prosperity clam or good luck clam." Wikipedia 
  • Spotted Wing Drosophila "Distribution: Becoming established throughout Northeast; first detected in NY in 2011 Background: Originally from Asia, spotted wing drosophila (SWD) first showed up in California in about 2005 and has spread north into Oregon, Washington, and western Canada, south into Florida and recently was reported at significant numbers in North Carolina and Michigan. In 2011 SWD was reported throughout the Northeast. SWD looks superficially like your everyday Vinegar Fly Drosophila melanogaster of genetics fame, but vinegar flies are generally not a serious economic threat to fruit growers. " Cornell University
  • The bloody red mysid shrimp "The bloody-red mysid, Hemimysis anomala, is a shrimp-like crustacean in the Mysida order, native to the Ponto-Caspian region, which has been spreading across Europe since the 1950s.[1] In 2006, it was discovered to haveinvaded the North American Great Lakes.[2]" Wikipedia 
  • Bythotrephes longimanus (also Bythotrephes cederstroemi), or the spiny water flea: "is a planktonic crustacean less than 15 millimetres (0.6 in) long. It is native to fresh waters of Northern Europe and Asia, but has been accidentally introduced and widely distributed in the Great Lakes area of North America since the 1980s " (Wikipedia)
  • Northern Snakehead "The northern snakehead (Channa argus) is a type of snakehead fish native to ChinaRussiaNorth Korea, andSouth Korea. In the United States, the fish is considered to be a highly invasive species. In a well-known incident, several were found in a pond in Crofton, Maryland in June 2002, which led to major media coverage and two movies. There have been sightings at Central Park in Burnaby, BC. " - Wikipedia


Invasive Species Education sites

Some sites that inform about how invasive species affect our environment