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Home / Invasive Species Resources

Invasive Species Resources

Provides access to all site resources, with the option to search by species common and scientific names. Resources can be filtered by Subject, Resource Type, Location, or Source.

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USDA. Agricultural Research Service.

Along the Rio Grande in Texas, tiny insects are taking a big bite out of an invasive weed that competes for limited water resources vital to agriculture and native vegetation. Several years ago, ARS scientists released two insect species as part of a biocontrol program to kill giant reed (Arundo donax).

Entomological Society of America. Entomology Today.
Invasive insect and arthropod species make for a lot of scary headlines—think emerald ash borer, spotted lanternfly, and Asian longhorned tick, just to name a few. But success stories in invasive-species response are out there. They just need to be told. One of those success stories is the eradication of the European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana) in northern California after it was found there in 2009. A cooperative, multipronged response effort kept infestations from running wild, and it was declared eradicated in 2016, two years after the last adult moth was caught in the region. The story of this effort is recounted, along with analysis of the invasion’s dynamics, in a study published in January in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

USDA. ARS. Tellus.

ARS researchers are working to understand the impact of a changing climate on bee health. In observance of National Pollinator Week, Tellus presents a special article authored by two of ARS’s leading bee researchers.

USDA. ARS. Tellus.

ARS scientists in Nevada, studied ways to control cheatgrass and restore rangelands to a healthy mix of plants, which in turn reduces wildfire threats, supports wildlife, and increases sustainable grazing resources.

USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

In recent decades, thousand cankers disease has become a concern for walnut growers and hardwood forest managers in the United States. A variety of measures have been investigated or developed to counter the disease. A study led by USDA Forest Service research entomologist Albert Mayfield and former University of Tennessee graduate student Jackson Audley looked at one measure: quarantine treatments. In an effort to stop the spread of the walnut twig beetle, certain states have prohibited the movement of regulated articles, including kiln-dried walnut lumber that still has its bark. The scientists investigated the risk of that type of lumber becoming colonized during movement to evaluate whether regulation of that product is necessary. Their paper was published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

Electronic noses are sensitive to a vast suite of volatile organic compounds that every living organism emits. A new USDA Forest Service study shows that e-noses can detect emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) larvae lurking under the bark – an early, noninvasive detection method. "The results were quite spectacular," says Dan Wilson, a research plant pathologist and lead author of the study. The findings were published in the journal Biosensors.

USDA. Forest Service.

Sometimes reaching a height of more than 100 feet tall with trunk diameters often well over 10 feet, the American chestnut was the giant of the eastern U.S. forests. There were once billions of them and their range stretched from Georgia and Alabama to Michigan, but the majestic tree was gone before forest science existed to document its role in the ecosystem. Notes left by early foresters including Gifford Pinchot, the founder and first chief of the USDA Forest Service, suggest that its ecological role was as impressive as the tree's size. Mature American chestnuts have been virtually extinct for decades. The tree's demise started with something called ink disease in the early 1800s, which steadily killed chestnut in the southern portion of its range. The final blow happened at the turn of the 20th century when a disease called chestnut blight swept through Eastern forests. But, after decades of work breeding trees, The American Chestnut Foundation, a partner in the Forest Service's effort to restore the tree, is close to being able to make a blight-resistant American chestnut available.

USDA. ARS. Tellus.

In parts of the South, there are stories about an invasive floating weed, which forms such a dense mass that it enables small animals to walk across water. This weed, called giant salvinia, is an exotic fern from South America that invades ponds, lakes, and other waterways in the United States. It damages aquatic ecosystems by outgrowing and replacing native plants that provide food and habitat for native animals and waterfowl.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are testing a naturally occurring fungus (Myrothecium spp.) against giant salvinia to help control it. Initial tests have found that the fungus stops this problematic weed from growing and even can kill it.

USDA. ARS. Tellus.

Rodrigo Krugner, an entomologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Parlier, California, has found an innovative way to control insect pests in California vineyards: tapping into the vibrational signals they use as mating calls.

Krugner’s efforts have mainly focused on glassy-winged sharpshooters, which spread a bacterium that causes Pierce’s disease in vineyards and costs the California grape industry an estimated $104 million a year. Growers use chemical sprays to control the pests, but insecticides also kill beneficial insects, leave residues, and become less effective as the insects develop resistance.

California Native Plant Society.

In Fremontia, the journal of the California Native Plant Society.

USDA. ARS. Tellus.

Hunting for natural enemies of the red imported fire ant is paying off for Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. Their latest discovery — a new virus found in fire ants from Argentina — has the potential of becoming a biological control agent against the red imported fire ants infesting the U.S.

USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

Forest Service scientists have published a guide synthesizing best practices for controlling these tiny bugs. It promotes a strategy of combining insecticide use with adelgid-eating insects.

USDA. ARS. Tellus.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers in Florida have developed “attract-and-kill” traps to control Asian citrus psyllids in the suburbs where citrus trees are popular landscape plantings.

Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Magazine.

The Asian giant hornet, seen for the first time in North America in 2019, is unlikely to murder you or U.S. bees, according to a Smithsonian entomologist.

USDA. ARS. Tellus.
The spotted lanternfly, first sighted in Pennsylvania, is an invasive pest to the U.S. See this photo essay to learn more about ARS's research efforts.
USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

White-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than six million bats over the past decade. WNS is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). Studies show that bats eat enough insect pests to save the U.S. corn industry more than $1 billion a year in crop damage and pesticide costs, and more than $3 billion per year to all agricultural production including forests.
 

To help fund the research needed to combat this deadly disease, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced $2.5 million in grants for research of high priority questions about WNS that will improve our ability to manage the disease and conserve affected bats.

USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

Laurel wilt has devastated plants in the Lauraceae family – redbay, sassafras, pondberry, avocado, and others – since it was first detected in the southeastern U.S. around 2002. There is no widespread, effective treatment for laurel wilt. Genetics research is focused on learning more about the pathogen's genetic structure in order to improve detection methods and screening for possible resistance in Lauraceae host species. "We have developed genetic markers to describe the population of the pathogen in the U.S.," says USDA Forest Service plant pathologist Tyler Dreaden. "Knowing which genotypes to use contributes to a quicker, more cost-effective resistance screening process." Dreaden led a new study to shed light on the genetic structure of the pathogen and its reproductive strategy. The research team included Marc Hughes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Randy Ploetz and Jason Smith at the University of Florida, and Adam Black, horticulture director of the Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation in Texas. Their findings were published in Forests.

USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was a keystone tree species in the eastern U.S., once found in the forest overstory from Maine to Georgia. The loss of the "mighty giant" to chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica), a fungal disease accidentally imported from Asia in the early 1900s, reduced the once dominant chestnuts to remnant understory sprouts. After eight years of field testing, USDA Forest Service research forester Stacy Clark and her colleagues evaluated blight resistance and survival of the backcross-generation American chestnut seedlings, known as BC3F3. Their results were published in Forest Ecology and Management.

DOI. NPS. Everglades National Park.

Tegus were first reported in the Miami-Dade area about a decade ago as escapees from the pet trade. Since then, over 6,000 tegus have been removed from Dade County. What is most troubling is that the number of tegus seems to be increasing exponentially. Less than 200 tegus were trapped in 2012, but over 1,000 were trapped in 2017. To make matters worse, the areas where they are being trapped are getting closer and closer to the park.