What Are Invasive Species?
Invasive species are unwanted pests (plant, animal or organism) that are not originally from an area, but have been introduced to it. In Canada, these are species that have arrived since the arrival of European settlers. Invasive species may be introduced in many different ways - accidental transport on clothing or vehicles, ornamental garden plants and "wildflower" seed mixes, agriculture, packing materials, recreational boating and fishing, removal of geographic boundaries, aquaculture, ship ballasts...the list goes on and on.
These new introduced species are able to invade into native ecosystems because they lack the checks in the new area that they may have had in their own native environments. For example, many of the plants introduced from Europe became invasive because they have no natural predators or diseases in the new country or territory, and are able to out-compete native plants and expand exponentially.
Due to climate change, time, and deliberate and accidental introduction, many invasive plants species typically concentrated in the United States are beginning to move northwards and establish themselves on the native grasslands and riparian areas of the Southern Canadian Prairies.
Maintaining and improving the condition of the riparian areas adjacent to the Swift Current Creek is an important part of the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards' primary objective of improving the overall quality of water in the Swift Current Creek. Preventing the establishment, introduction and expansion of invasive plants in the area is a high priority for the group, as well as educating rural and urban watershed residents on how to identify and control these species.
The initial Swift Current Creek Invasive Plant Species Control Program helped to provide watershed residents tools to identify invasive plants and come up with methods to control them before it becomes too late. The two main target plants of this program were Leafy Spurge and Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) but being able to recognize other invasive plant species is also very important.
Why are Invasive Plants so Successful in New Environments?
Invasives are often opportunistic plants that either produce a huge amount of seeds each year, maintain a seed bank in the ground for many years, or have deep roots that can tap into nutrients and water deeper in the soil than native plants, so they can survive even in poor soils or drought. Some of these plant species also alter their environment to suit their needs better, such as nutrient enrichment, increasing the soil salinity, creating more shade, secreting allelopathic chemicals, etc.
What Can You Do to Prevent the Introduction and Spread of Invasive Plants?
- Clean your shoes, clothing, vehicles, and pets at each site you are at to avoid spreading seeds and plant parts to other areas
- Avoid "wildflower" seed mixes - REMEMBER: "WILD" DOESN'T EQUAL NATIVE
- Remove invasive plants from your gardens and replace with a non-invasive plant
- Contact your local Pest Control Specialist or the Provincial Weed Control Specialist to report the plant and investigate control options (burning, mowing, chemical control, grazing, clipping, etc.)
- If you see the beginning of an infestation, eradicating it while it is only a few plants will eliminate a tragedy
- If you are trying to control an invasive plant infestation, remember to plan for long-term management
- Contact the SCCWS to report them, and to find out more information about the plants and the Stewards' efforts in the Invasive Plant Species Control Program!
Watch Out For These Invasive Plants!
Contact the Stewards or the Native Plant Society
Photo credits left to right, top to bottom: Debbie Nordstrom; Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org; Angela Salzl; Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org; Angela Salzl; Angela Salzl; Debbie Nordstrom; Debbie Nordstrom; Ricky Layson, Ricky Layson Photography, Debbie Nordstrom; Debbie Nordstrom; Debbie Nordstrom; Angela Salzl; Angela Salzl; Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org; Richard Old, XID Services, Inc., Bugwood.org; Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org; Angela Salzl; Angela Salzl; Debbie Nordstrom; Angela Salzl; Richard Old, XID Services, Inc., Bugwood.org; John Cardina, Ohio State University, Bugwood.org
Check Out These Sites for Additional Information
Saskatchewan Invasive Species Council
Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan
Invasive Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Manitoba