Herald & ReviewWhat’s in a name? Non-native species not the same as invasives


URBANA — “Invasive species” is an environmental buzzword right now and for good reason. The estimated price tag of managing the damages caused by invasive species such as the emerald ash borer or Asian carp is $120 billion annually in the United States.

May is Invasive Species Awareness Month in Illinois.

“Non-native invasive species are one of the biggest environmental threats, second only to habitat loss,” says Kelly Allsup, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. “Once invasive species have a foothold it can be hard to remove them, so prevention and early detection and response is key.”

A native plant, animal, or insect species occur naturally in a region, while non-native species are introduced, usually by humans, from somewhere else either unintentionally or on purpose. A non-native species has to harm the environment, economy, or human health for it to be considered invasive. Some common invasive species in Illinois are zebra mussels, feral hogs, brown marmorated stink bug, and garlic mustard.
Once introduced, invasive species spread quickly and aggressively, often because they don’t have natural predators. They then compete with native species for resources.