Invasive Species | St. Louis Public Radio

Invasive Species

Matthew Albrecht (at front), associate scientist at the Garden's Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, and volunteer Eva Adams help during a honeysuckle sweep workday at Shaw Nature Reserve in 2018.
Mike Saxton | Shaw Nature Reserve

Bush honeysuckle isn't native to Missouri, but the species is flourishing in the state. The infestation has impacted the diversity and abundance of native plants, eliminated essential habitats for the insects that rely upon native plants, and has provided poor nutrition for birds, among other issues. The honeysuckle also escalates human exposure to Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, a tickborne bacterial infection, by increasing the activity of the tick host, whitetailed deer. 

In an effort to upset honeysuckle infestation, the Missouri Botanical Garden has organized public events and volunteer removal days to raise public awareness about the need for bush honeysuckle removal and the benefits of replacing it with native plants. 

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with the garden’s restoration outreach coordinator, Ali Brown, who is heading up the organization’s Honeysuckle Sweep Month

"We're not saying this is an excellent outcome for the status or the persistence of this native mosquito," said Tyson Research Center director Kim Medley.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

As you’re swatting at swarms of mosquitoes this spring, take comfort in this fact: Our bloodsucking foes have their own parasites.

The tiny waterborne parasites only infect mosquitoes — but not every species is susceptible.

The invasive Asian rock pool mosquito, first found in Missouri in 2005, appears to be virtually immune to a protozoan parasite in Missouri. Biologists at Tyson Research Center now say this invasive mosquito acts like a vacuum, sucking up parasites that attack a native mosquito species.

UMSL plans to remove bush honeysuckle, pictured here, from seven acres on campus.
Flickr

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is embarking on a long-term effort to remove invasive plants from forested areas on campus.

The university received funding from the Missouri Department of Conservation in November to restore a total of seven acres. With help from St. Louis-based contractor Native Landscape Solutions, UMSL plans to eradicate invasive bush honeysuckle and replace it with native plants.

Gregory Ward, UMSL grounds supervisor, calls the project a “big reset button.”

Missouri Department of Conservation

No one knows exactly how many feral hogs are in Missouri.

But the Missouri Department of Conservation has eliminated 7,300 so far this year.

The pigs aren’t a native Missouri wildlife species. They’re descendants of domesticated pigs that either escaped or were set free to be hunted.

“For over 20 years, unregulated hunting of feral hogs was allowed in Missouri, during which time our feral-hog population expanded from a few counties to over 30 counties,” said Mark McLain, who leads the department’s feral-hog strike team tasked with trapping and killing the animals.

The emerald ash borer was first detected in Missouri in 2008. Since then, it has spread to 53 counties.
Mark Smith | Flickr

An invasive beetle is spreading rapidly across the state.

This week, the Missouri Department of Conservation reported the emerald ash borer appeared in 11 more counties in 2018, bringing the total number of affected counties in the state to 53. The larvae of the metallic green beetle burrow under the bark of ash trees and kill them within a few years.

Missouri Department of Conservation fisheries technician Shane Creasy treats a five-acre lake in Warren County with aquatic herbicide to kill hydrilla on June 8, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Shane Creasy stands on the edge of a lake and casts a plastic beaker full of thick white herbicide into the water.

The herbicide slowly fans out across the surface of the lake, as Creasy, a fisheries technician with the Missouri Department of Conservation, peels off his protective gloves. The target, an invasive aquatic plant known as hydrilla, is a tenacious adversary that takes years to eradicate.


The Missouri Department of Conservation says honeysuckle can affect lake and stream banks, marsh, fens, sedge meadow, wet and dry prairies, savannas, floodplain and upland forests and woodlands.
Missouri Department of Conservation

This week, in the hallowed halls of the historic Old Courthouse in St. Louis, a local woodworker sued a shrub.

In an educational mock trial held Wednesday, a jury heard the case against invasive bush honeysuckle. The plant was first introduced to the U.S. from eastern Asia in the 1700s and has since spread to at least 31 states, including Missouri.

An aerial shot of wildlife officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation removing Asian carp from Creve Coeur Lake in winter 2018.
Missouri Department of Conservation

Federal and Missouri state wildlife officials have successfully used a new technique to remove the majority of Asian carp from Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis County. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Missouri Department of Conservation and St. Louis County Parks and Recreation deployed a method to extract the invasive species from the lake.

Asian carp has invaded many Midwestern lakes and rivers, outcompeting native fish populations and tainting water quality. Traditional netting methods have not been effective, since the fish jump over the nets. Under the "unified method" developed in China, nets and electric barriers create a grid-like system where fish are herded and then removed.

Missouri Department of Conservation official Mark McLain shows how the BoarBuster, a feral hog trap, can be deployed with his phone.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

The invasive feral hog roams in more than 30 counties in Missouri, decimating farmland and wildlife areas in its path.

This summer, state officials banned feral hog hunting on public lands in their latest effort to eradicate the pest from Missouri. They’re also beginning to use new technology to trap the animals.

Provided by Missouri Department of Conservation

Centuries ago, European settlers brought hogs to North America. But little did they know that the wild descendants of those animals would become a major pest. Considered an invasive species, the feral hogs are known to ruin natural areas, spread diseases and cause enormous property damage for local farmers.

Forestry Commissioner Skip Kincaid points out the insecticide injections given to a tree in north St. Louis.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents of St. Louis may have come across an odd sight in their front yards this summer: workers drilling holes into trees and plugging up the holes with mysterious white tubes. 

The workers are urban foresters from the city of St. Louis' forestry division. While the activity might seem suspicious, they're trying to help ash trees that are vulnerable to the invasive emerald ash borer. 

Sweet-Smelling Honeysuckle Is A Not-So-Sweet Invader

Aug 4, 2014
Magnificent Missouri

You may have seen the billboards, calling honeysuckle an "enemy of the state."

Huh?

It turns out that pretty bush with its fragrant, white and yellow flowers isn't so sweet after all.

Erin Shank is an urban wildlife biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. But she spends a lot of her time these days trying to get rid of invasive honeysuckle.

"We certainly have quite a bit of it, no doubt about that," Shank said. "And it’s a bugger of a plant to control and manage."