Invasive Species Awareness Week

There are destructive exotic insects invading our forests, our crops, our landscapes; .exotic mussels invading our waterways and lakes; and exotic weeds taking over our fields, stream areas, home landscapes and rangelands. May 20 through May 26 is Invasive Species Awareness Week. What do you know about invasive species?

Why should we worry about invasive species? Trees are the backbone of our landscape and a valuable investment. Invasive insects can destroy trees in home landscapes and in forest areas. As for exotic mussels, we don’t want to lose the clarity and fisheries of Lake Tahoe or other lakes. In the case of noxious weeds, we don’t want Nevada turning into California where 12 million acres are covered with yellow starthistle with its 1-2-inch spines preventing recreational or livestock use.

At University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, our education focus about invasive species is on insects and noxious weeds. We want to prevent these problem species from establishing in our area and reduce existing populations. The insects we are on the lookout for include the Asian longhorned beetle, Emerald ash borer, goldspotted oak borer, honeylocust borer, oak splendor beetle, redhaired pine beetle, Sirex wood wasp and white satin moth.

A noxious weed is a plant that has been identified by the state of Nevada to be harmful to agriculture, the general public or the environment. Once noxious weeds inhabit a site, they often reproduce profusely, creating dense stands with thousands to millions of seeds in the soil that can persist for many years. Impacts of noxious weeds include: increased soil erosion and salinity, increased flood potential, decreased water quality, decreased forage and crop yield, displaced wildlife and native plants, reduced recreational potential, reduced aesthetic value, injury to humans and animals, and increased fire danger. It costs a lot to control these weeds.

Each of us can play a significant role in protecting our native and urban forests, rangelands, parks, home landscapes and open spaces from invasive and noxious species that can do great ecological, aesthetic and economical damage. For more information on exotic insects, contact me for a copy of Exotic Insects Invading Nevada Trees! at skellyj@unce.unr.edu or 887-2252. For information on noxious weeds, contact Margie Evans, evansm@unce.unr.edu or go to our website www.unce.unr.edu.