The title might sound like a B-sci-fi movie, but in reality, the truth could be more frightening than fiction. Non-native insects and especially plants have the capability of destroying our landscape and waterways when they are allowed to grow unchecked. Next month, the Long Island Invasive Species Management Area, which works in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, will be holding a conference that is open to the general public. Anyone who is concerned about the natural environment on Long Island – and everyone certainly should be – might consider attending this event.
Spring is only a couple weeks away, and that’s a time when thoughts turn to planting a garden. The types of plants and even seeds we use could have a dramatic impact, especially if they could become invasive. We have seen that happen way too often with bamboo, which has become a nuisance in many local neighborhoods.
Luke Gervase, an ecologist with LIISMA, says that some of the non-native plants that grow in the wild could also be dangerous to humans, such as the giant hogweed. It looks pretty innocuous, but he noted, “They grow over 12 feet high and can leave a chemical burn on your skin that makes poison ivy look like nothing.”
Phragmites is another problem in the wetlands in our reader area. This plant outcompetes native vegetation, lowering their ability to thrive. “It could choke a waterway,” said Gervase.
Let’s not forget the more creepy invaders. Everyone should be able to identify and know how to deal with the southern pine beetle. This native to the southeastern United States is considered one of the most destructive insects of pine trees. And so is the Asian long-horned beetle, native to China and the Korean peninsula, which was said to arrive in this country through wood pallets. In the U.S., they also are destroying elm, birch, poplar and horse chestnut trees, to name a few.
These issues will be discussed at the upcoming meetings, a valuable tool for anyone interested in preserving our local natural habitats. The meetings will be held on April 24 and 25 at the Sisters of St. Joseph, 1725 Brentwood Road, Building 2 in Brentwood. To register or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.