Lathrop’s Alien Invasives
Lamp Post Easy Being Green for August 14, 2014
by Barbara Walvoord
We haven’t seen little green men (or women) running around our land, but we’re on the lookout for another type of green invasive–plants that originated outside our own environment and that, having left behind the enemies and competitors that kept them in check in their native lands, now run amuck, crowding out the native plants that sustain our native birds, bees, butterflies, and all the critters that depend on them.
Here’s our killer statistic (again!): 96% of birds need insects to feed their young. 90% of insects eat only native plants (Douglas Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home).
So you may have seen Land Conservation Subcommittee members, looking a bit like aliens themselves in their boots and hats, armed with loppers and plastic bags, wading out into our wetlands to behead the invasive Purple loosestrife so that its blossoms don’t go to seed. One plant can produce up to a million seeds. Purple loosestrife reduces populations of turtles, ducks, salamanders, and many other native creatures.
And today you will see committee members accompanying a contractor with a GPS, tramping around our land to estimate the cost for removing invasives in some of our most sensitive and valuable areas, such as our lovely wet meadow behind Cranberry/Spiceberry/Teaberry on the east campus where invasive Purple loosestrife is moving beyond our volunteer beheading capabilities, or the precious woodland on the north campus where invasive Barberry is coming in along the creek.
Is it hopeless? I think we can take a hint from how responsible humans have addressed hunger. Hunger is a huge, overwhelming, disastrous problem. But that doesn’t mean we don’t contribute to the food bank in our own county..