Looking out for invasive species in the Valley ahead of Spring

Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 10:51 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - National Invasive Species Week is wrapping up and the Virginia Department of Forestry is giving insight on what you should look out for.

A species is deemed invasive when it is introduced to a place it isn’t native to. Zachary Arnold, an Area Forester with VDOF said there are a number of ways a species of plant or insect can be transported from one place to another.

“They’ve come over for like ornamental purposes. Tree of heaven was one that was planted as an ornamental in the 1800′s,” he said. “Similar thing to Callery pear, which we see too. People liked to plant it. They thought was sterile, but it wasn’t, so it started to escape. Some invasive species came over in shipping containers. They didn’t know it was there in the pallet wood because they didn’t properly treat the pallet wood.”

Invasive species can be dangerous as they can start to alter the current natural ecosystem.

Arnold said there is one invasive insect that they expect to become more common in the Valley- the spotted lanternfly.

“It was first seen in Pennsylvania in 2015 and that has slowly started migrating down South,” he said.

He added the insect will mainly be seen near a tree of heaven which is his native host crawling during its nymph stage or with a “gray-colored back with spots on its wings” and a red body with black dots underneath.

Arnold said methods of treating invasive species depend on what it is and the time of year, but the best method is to use Integrated Pest Management, a more scientific approach.

“You’re using biological control maybe, herbicides, or mechanical pulling the weeds up too in order to minimize the impact on the environment,” he said.

Now -just ahead of spring- is a good time to start noticing invasive species as Arnold said they peak earlier than native ones.

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