Many kinds of harmful invasive species enter and spread throughout the United States on land or in water through various pathways.
Non-native plants, animals, algae, fungus, or disease-causing microorganisms are capable of causing severe damage to the economy, environment and human health, once they invade enough area outside their normal habitat, according to the U.S. Forest service.
Common invasive species in the U.S. include the emerald ash borer, feral swine, zebra and quagga mussels, kudzu vine, cheatgrass, hemlock woolly adelgid, white-nose syndrome fungal pathogen, lionfish, bufflegrass, Asian carp, garlic mustard, leafy spurge, Sirex woodwasp, Burmese python, Japanese knotweed and many more.
In 2018, the top invasive animals reported by national parks spanned a wide variety of species — including European starling, Feral cat, Rock pigeon (Columba livia), House sparrow (Passer domesticus) and Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), according to National Park Service.
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Using data of native pest species collected by the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia, here’s a guide to the most invasive species in every state as of May 2023.
How to prevent the spread of invasive species at home and when traveling
- Avoid planting invasive ornamental plants on your property, use native alternatives instead.
- Learn how to properly remove and control the invasive plants around your property.
- Report invasive species infestations to your local, county, state, or federal government agency.
- Do not dump aquariums or houseplants into the environment (such lakes, streams, rivers, ponds, or other natural areas).
- Contact your local National Forest or Grassland, state or county government officials to learn about invasive species in your area.
- When traveling, make sure to clean your clothes, boat, animals, and gear off after recreating to prevent the spread of invasive species to other areas.
- Do not collect invasive plants, their seeds, or reproductive bodies.
- Do not carry firewood long distances.
- Properly dispose of live bait in the trash.
- Use only invasive-free (weed-free) forage/hay when feeding livestock on National Forests.
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