Introduction to Invasive Species
As described on VTinvasives.org, "Invasive species are plants, animals, and other organisms that are introduced to a non-native ecosystem and also cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health." These include a wide range of organisms, though the most common ones are plants (both on land and in the water) and insects.
Not every non-native species becomes an invasive; for instance, people grow ornamental plants, raise pets or farm animals, or introduce insects outside their native range. What distinguishes an invasive species is that it not only survives, but thrives on its own in the wild, often disrupting existing (native) organisms and ecosystems in the process. This is often because invasive species do not have a natural predator in their non-native environment, and native organisms have not had enough time to evolve a resistance or ability to compete with the newcomer.
VTinvasives.org has a wealth of information on invasive species found in our state, including how to identify them, where they came from (if known), their lifecycle, why they are a problem, and how to manage their impacts. The Essex Conservation and Trails Committee also has assembled information on common invasive species found in our town.
What Can I Do about Invasive Species?
First, learn how to identify various invasive species through VTinvasives.org or the fact sheets on this webpage. If you find an invasive species, consider reporting it, especially if it is a new species that is spreading rapidly. These sources also contain information about how to manage invasive species on your own land or waters.
If you would like to volunteer to help manage invasive species on public land in Essex, join the Conservation and Trails Committee for its Spring and Fall Clean-Up Days (typically held on a weekend in May and September, respectively). Contact Town Planner Darren Schibler at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 878-1343 for details.
If you are interested in helping manage forest pests, consider signing up for the Forest Pest First Detectors Program, managed by the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program. You will learn how to identify signs of invasive insects, understand their impacts on forests and humans, learn what to do if you find one, and find out how to get involved in your community's efforts to manage them.