AUGUSTA — Are you interested in learning more about invasive species and what Maine is doing to address them? The new Invasive Species Portal on Maine.gov gives citizens easy access to work being done by state agencies.
The portal can help you find resources about destructive flora and fauna that have invaded our state or could be coming very soon. Invasive species are wreaking havoc on Maine’s ecosystems and resources. Trails are blocked, propellers are clogged, swimmers get tangled and diners may see clam prices rising.
On the maine.gov/invasives portal, you’ll find resources to learn about northern pike, green crabs, hydrilla, spotted lanternfly, emerald ash borer and Japanese barberry. Long list you say? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Invasive species are found across Maine’s ecosystems.
Here is a sampling of the type of invasive species Mainers should be aware of:
- Ocean: Green crabs are so devastating to our clam flats that you could see the tab for your favorite fried dinner go sky high. Our ocean resources are so important to the Maine way of life. We need to stem the tide of invasive organisms attacking our coastline.
- Horticulture: Norway maples create dense shade and crowd out native trees from their shallow root systems to completely take over forested areas that previously featured a mixture of native maples, ashes, oaks and pines. The native trees provide lots of food for caterpillars and other insects which are critical food sources for baby birds while the invasive Norway maples do not.
- Agriculture: If you love local fruits and wines you do not want the spotted lanternfly to find its way to Maine. Although a very colorful and beautiful insect, they suck the life out of grape vines, apple and peach trees and they may also spread diseases to those trees.
- Lakes: Hydrilla, the Godzilla of lake weeds, can grow so dense that boats and swimmers can become entangled in its tendrils. Only 1% of Maine lakes are now infested with invasive plants, making prevention critical to keeping it that way.
- Forests: Invasive plants and shrubs can threaten the forest. Shrubs like honeysuckle, Japanese barberry, and glossy buckthorn can out-compete native tree regeneration in the forest understory and can harbor higher densities of disease-carrying ticks.
- Insects: The emerald ash borer has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees from New Hampshire to Texas and is a threat to all ash in North America. Ash is an important component of the forests around our lakes and rivers, and its loss will alter streams as well as the fish and other animals living in them.
- Fish: Northern Pike, illegally introduced into the Belgrade Chain of Lakes in the 1970’s, are now present in at least 16 lakes in the Kennebec, Androscoggin, and coastal river drainages. They are suspected to occur in several additional waters. These newest populations have been derived from illegal transport or by out-migration from lakes where they have become established. Pike are voracious predators on other fishes, and their presence in one lake is suspected of destroying one of the state’s premier landlocked salmon populations.
Prevention and awareness are key. Once one of these space invaders is loosed upon our forests, fields or waters it is almost impossible to control. Well-informed Mainers are vital in helping to prevent the spread of invasive species in our lakes, oceans, fields and forests.
—Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
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