PROTECTING BC FROM ALIEN INVADERS

WHAT IS AN ALIEN SPECIES?

An alien species is a non-native species whose interaction causes economic harm, harm to human health and/or environmental harm. Invasive species are often likened to

"super-bugs".

 

These "super-weeds" have abilities to reproduce and survive that far exceed their native counterparts. Invasive plants quickly displace native vegetation and completely take over sensitive ecosystems as they have no natural predators (i.e. diseases, fungi, insects) in their non-native environment.

ALIEN PROFILES

HOGWEED

Location: Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, and central to southern Vancouver Island

 

Status: At Large in British Columbia

 

Description:

• Numerous small white flowers clusters in an umbrella-shaped head

• Dark green leaves are coarsely toothed in 3 large segments with stiff underside hairs

• Lower leaves can exceed 2.5 metres in length.

• Can grow up to 5 metres in height at maturity.

 

Wanted for: Giant hogweed stem hairs and leaves contain a clear, highly toxic sap that, when in contact with the skin, can cause burns, blisters and scarring.

 

Notes: WorkSafe BC has issued a Toxic Plant Warning for Giant hogweed

 

FIRE ANTS

Location: Eastern seaboard of the United States, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia.

 

Status: At Large across Canada

 

Description:

• Small red to brownish red ant

• Two waist segments

• Two backward pointing spines and stinger (visible with a magnifying glass)

 

Wanted for: Fire ant is an aggressive, swarming ant that can deliver a painful sting when disturbed.

 

Notes: Once established, the colonies also spread naturally through "colony budding", where one or more queens and a group of workers will leave the colony and establish a new satellite colony.

 

 

BLUEWEED

Location: Cariboo, Central Kootenay, Columbia-Shuswap, East Kootenay, Okanagan-Silmilkameem, and Thompson-Nicola Regional Districts.

 

Status: At Large

 

Description:

• Bright blue blossoms

• Rough stems,

• Grow 30-80 centimetres in height at maturity

 

Wanted for: Infestations are associated with some economic losses.

 

Notes: Seeds are generally dropped in the immediate vicinity of the parent plant, but can be distributed further by animals as the rough seeds stick to clothing, hair and feathers.

 

ZEBRA MUSSELS

Location: Mussels have been found in the Great Lakes in Ontario and Quebec, and in at least 24 American states as far west as California and Colorado. Currently Zebra and quagga mussels have not become established in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana or British Columba.

 

Status: Growing in numbers

 

Description:

• Grow up to 15 mm

• A “D-shaped” shell

• Lower leaves can exceed 2.5 metres in length.

• Colour may vary from light to dark brown and the shell has obvious striping

 

Wanted for: Threat to the biodiversity and fisheries of any water system

 

Notes: Invasive mussels can colonize on boats and other watercraft.

 

HAWKWEEDS

Location: Invasive hawkweeds are found throughout most forest regions and regional districts in British Columbia.

 

Status: At large in British Columbia

 

Description:

• Bright orange, orange-red, or yellow ray flowers with several flower heads

• Leaves are long and oval-shaped

• Stems contain a milky fluid

• rosette formation at the base of fibrous

 

Wanted for: Hawkweeds can replace native vegetation in open, undisturbed natural areas such as meadows, reducing forage and threatening biodiversity.

 

Notes: Hawkweeds (Hieracium spp.) are perennial plants with 14 non-native species recorded in BC.

 

SCOTCH BROOM

Location: West of the Coast-Cascade Mountains in southwest BC, and is concentrated at the southern end of Vancouver Island

 

Status: At in British Columbia

 

Description:

• Bright yellow, pea-like flowers

• Stems are woody and 5-angled

• Flat, hairy seedpods are initially green, turning brown or black with maturity

 

Wanted for: Scotch Broom invades rangelands, replacing forage plants, and is a serious competitor to conifer seedlings.

 

Notes: Photosynthetic stems enable year-round growth, leading to displacement of native plant species.

 

FLAG IRIS

Location: BC’s southern interior, and has quickly spread throughout the Okanagan valley, lower Similkameen valley, Christina Lake and other isolated sites in the West Kootenays.

 

Status: At large in British Columbia

 

Description:

• Yellow flowers with 3 sepals that curve backward

• 3 petals pointing upwards

• Leaves fold and clasp the stem at the base in a fan-like fashion

 

Wanted for: While seeds disperse in the wind and water, popularity of the plant in the market exacerbate efforts to contain new infestations.

 

Notes: Yellow flag-iris can sicken livestock if ingested, though it is generally avoided by grazing animals. Contact with the resins can cause skin irritation in humans.

 

 

Location: Just about anywhere including driveways, gardens, roads, ditches, creeks

 

Status: At Large in British Columbia

 

Description:

• Hollow, bamboo-like stems

• Distinct red coloured segments along the    stems

• Small white flowers

• Large green leaves

• Grows to 3m tall

 

Wanted for: Extensive damage to private

and public property and wreaking havoc on the environment

 

Notes: Spreads by roots, seeds and

plant fragments.

 

KNOTWEED

 

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