10 New Invasive Species to Watch Out For

invasive spotted lanternfly with closed, pink wings
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According to the National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC), an invasive species can be a plant, animal, or other organism that is non-native and that can upset the balance in the ecology of an area. Invasive species can cause economic, environmental, or human harm.

There are a variety of ways invasive species spread to non-native areas. You can minimize this effect by selecting native plants for your yard and garden, never traveling with plants, and avoiding firewood transport from one area to another. Also, keep a lookout for invasive species and eliminate and report them if spotted.

1. Asian Jumping Worm

asian jumping worms next to ruler

They may not be new, but they are newly causing issues throughout the Northeast and Midwest where they are messing with the soil. This results in less food for native species.

2. Box Tree Moth

box tree moth with white wings and black outline

It may look cute fluttering around your boxwood hedge, but the box tree moth is a problematic little bugger. Infestations can lead to foliage destruction and plant death.

3. Spotted Lanternfly

spotted lanternfly with beautiful red and spotted wings

Although first spotted in the United States in 2014, the invasion has spread to nine states, and areas like California are taking a strong stance against allowing it to invade the area.

NISIC says the spotted lanternfly, “is most commonly associated with "Tree of Heaven" (Ailanthus altissima) plants and also feeds on a wide variety of agricultural crops such as grape, apple, and hops; and several native species of plants and trees including maple, walnut, and willow.” It was most recently ‘spotted’ in Rhode Island for the first time.

4. Balsam Woolly Adelgid

white fluffy growths on evergreen branch

Again, it’s not new as much as it’s causing new problems. The balsam woolly adelgid was detected early this year in Michigan, and has become a notable concern for their favored true-fir trees including balsam, Fraser, and concolor (white) fir.

These trees are commonly grown for use as Christmas trees, causing concern for the state’s crop.

5. Quagga Mussel

quagga mussel on plastic underwater

You’ll have to know what you’re looking for to identify this mussel, a native of Ukraine. Fortunately, a seasonal inspector at Yellowstone National Park identified it when found attached to a boat that was about to enter the water. The Quagga Mussel is invasive and quickly destroys native mussel populations.

6. Beech Leaf Disease

beach leaf disease

Beech Leaf Disease is caused by microscopic worms that lodge inside leaves for the winter. It’s been in the states for several years, but it’s expansion is a concern, even in areas where it hasn’t yet been discovered. As of the beginning of the year, it has been found in seven eastern states and Ontario, Canada.

Be on the lookout for leaf damage on your American beech and European and Asian beech species which AP News describes as, “darkened, thick tissue bands between leaf veins, creating a striped effect on the leaves, leaf distortion and bud mortality.”

7. Northern Snakehead

invasive snakehead fish on ground

It’s a fish that was spotted in the Delaware river late last year, prompting officials in bordering New York and Pennsylvania to alert the public.

“They are just voracious predators that have the potential to out-compete and displace other fish in the river and disrupt the river’s food web,” Don Hamilton, chief of resource management at the National Park Service’s Upper Delaware section, told AP News.

8. Murder Hornet

red murder hornet up close

Discovered in Washington state early in the pandemic—timing that fed many memes—the biggest hornet in the world is more than something from a sci-fi movie. It’s a significant threat to honey bees, and therefore our domestic food supply.

The state is asking anyone who sees the insect to report it directly to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

9. Rusty Crayfish

rusty crayfish with black claw

This invasive species can be identified by the distinctive black-tipped claws and rust-colored spots on its upper shell. It was discovered in Kansas this past summer during a university-sponsored research project on the monitoring of native and non-native crayfish in the area.

10. Caulerpa Prolifera

bright green Caulerpa Prolifera seaweed

California has identified this invasive algae, a transplant that is native to the other side of the country in Florida. Caulerpa prolifera is fast growing, with the potential to choke out native seaweed.

The state previously identified another algae, known as caulerpa taxifolia, which looks similar but was eradicated through aggressive measures. That history leads scientists to believe this newer discovery could wreak havoc on coastal ecosystems in the state.