Discourage Invasives

Invasive species pose major threats to New York’s biodiversity, and without biodiversity, we risk losing everything, from the variety of bird life and the health of native trees to most of our wildflowers and our own health. The whole countryside would be overwhelmed with strangling vines, bushes full of thorns that bear no fruit, and a single species of tree that turns a forest into a fake-looking, monotonous backdrop. Pollinators will give up and move a more welcoming state, like Vermont.

Invasives—they come from far away, usually Europe or Asia, brought carelessly or inadvertently. Sometimes all it takes is a seed. Back home they are restrained by their native biodiversity: Other species eat them or overshade their growth. Here they have no enemies or rivals. There is plenty to eat, room to grow, an environment to dominate, and the climate is great. Here are a few of the culprits: Emerald Ash Borer, Garlic Mustard, Multiflora Rose, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Japanese Knotweed, Mile-a-Minute creeper/sprinter, Swallow-Wort (Black and Pale), Purple Loosestrife, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Viburnum Leaf Beetle. There are, unfortunately, many more.

The best way to not enable invasive species is…don’t plant them. If you have one, get rid of it fast, and every root. A good source in how to Identify and avoid common garden invasives is available here.

Here is Columbia/Greene Cornell Cooperative Extension’s guide.

Some good tips on getting rid of invasives here.

For a quick drill-down into the ecology of one invasive, how it can destroy biodiversity, and how thorough its extirpation needs to be, Mike Fargione of the Cary Institute has written a case history of swallow-wart, available here.

These resources just scratch the surface. You’ll find lots on YouTube and Google on how to handle specific species.


Deer may be cute, but they cause endless trouble. After uncontrolled hunting killed all but a few in the 19th century, 20th century wildlife management spurred their return for recreational hunting. But we wiped out their predators, so there are far too many, and they are multiplying. Meanwhile, the yards of encroaching towns and suburbs offer better food than the woods, which deer have tended to eat bare anyway. And they can be dangerous: An average of 65,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur annually in New York—third in the nation after Michigan and Pennsylvania. Find more facts and things you can do here.