Controlling Common Invasive Plants and Animals

By: Daniel Weber, Ph.D, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Below is a list of common invasive species in the United States and what you can do to minimize these problems. The most successful defense is to never establish invasive species and discourage others from practices that may introduce non-native species. However, one highly successful approach for removing invasive species is to organize local officials and neighbors to create “Clear Cut Missions;” local groups that remove or reduce the influence of these invaders.

Plant or Animal Species
Controlling Techniques
a. If found in your garden, pull up plant or seedlings by roots. If you find this too difficult, cut down the plant and spray stump with an herbicide, e.g., the glyphosate Round UpTM .
b. Buckthorn can send up new shoots from a “dead” stump so you may have to repeat step a (above) in following years.
Garlic Mustard
a. This biennial flowers and distributes seed in its second year so you can pull up plant by its roots, cut it yearly before the flower buds open, or spray it with Round UpTM as a last resort.
b. In the first year, pull up plant by its roots or use Round UpTM-cutting it won’t kill it at this age.
Gypsy Moth
a. If a large-scale infestation has occurred, encourage your local officials to use the BT spray. The bacterium (Bacillus thurengiensis) kills the larvae before they metamorphose into an adult. You can also buy BT spray at many local garden centers. It is safe for humans, wildlife, and most invertebrates.
b. Place sticky wrap (fly paper or tangle wrap) around the trunk-up to 5 feet from the ground. When the larvae emerge from the soil and climb up the trunk to eat the leaves, they will get trapped and die.
House Sparrows/Starlings
a. Create a native species garden to attract more local, native birds.
b. Check for nests and remove them.
Zebra Mussel
a. If you’re a boat owner, hose down your boat thoroughly after removing it from the lake or stream (check for Eurasian Milfoil while you’re at it!).
b. Clean all your aquatic equipment (fishing reels, etc.) before using them in another body of water.


Originally posted in “On Eagles’ Wings” June 20th 2004