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Invasive species are aggressive, non-native organisms that outcompete and threaten native ones. Invasive species can be anything from mammals to insects to plants and more.  

Invasive species also threaten biodiversity. These organisms tend to take over an area and create a monoculture, where less or even only one species exists. Maintaining biodiversity is vital to a healthy environment, as it increases the ecosystem's resiliency, or the ability to swing back, from events like drought, disease, fire, or climate change. 


Learn your invasive species! Many of them are fairly easy to recognize and even easier to kill or remove. See below for examples of invasive species and the best recommended way to remove them from your backyard.


However, if you are not sure about the identification of a plant or insect, don't kill it! 


Check out one of our favorite resources on invasive plants courtesy of PA DCNR.



Fast-spreading vine with triangular leaves, can smother other plants, pull off trees and bushes and remove from site

Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut


Winged Euonymus

Also known as burning bush, has "wings" on sides of stems, red berries in the fall, spreads through root systems, pull and remove from site if small, cut and apply herbicide to larger plants after removing nearby small ones

Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrnhoff, University of Connecticut


Garlic Mustard

White flowers and heart-shaped leaves, can outcompete natives, very easy to pull from ground

Photo courtesy of Chris Evans, University of Illinois,



Shrub with needle-like thorns, can be cut with herbicide application

Photo courtesy of Richard Gardner,



Thorny plant with reddish tinge, berries in the summer, pull out of ground (can root in multiple places), can be left at site, make sure roots are no longer touching ground (ie. on top of fallen log)

Photo courtesy of Richard Gardner,


Oriental Bittersweet

Vine, can smother and pull down trees, pull smaller ones, cut larger at ground level and again at head height

Photo courtesy of Richard Gardner,


Canadian Thistle

Also known as Creeping Thistle, thorny grass with purple puff-like flowers or white tuft, can outcompete, pull from ground

Photo courtesy of Rob Routledge, Sault College,


Autumn Olive

Shrub with green and silver wavy leaves, can be cut with herbicide application

Photo courtesy of Richard Gardner,


Multiflora Rose

Thorny plant, creates brambles and can smother other plants, can be pulled if small, must be cut and herbicide applied if larger

Photo courtesy of Richard Gardner,


Japanese Honeysuckle

Vine or bush, sweet flowers in summer, can be pulled or cut with herbicide application if larger

Photo courtesy of Richard Gardner,



Teardrop-shaped leaves, needle-like thorns, mice (and ticks) love it, can be pulled from ground

Photo courtesy of Chris Evans, University of Illinois,



There are several invasive insects in Pennsylvania including the stinkbug and the Japanese beetle. However, the worst threat currently is the Spotted Lanternfly. This insect has various characteristics depending on the stage in its life cycle. The most effective way to control this species is to squash it when you see it. As well, make sure you check yourself and your vehicles before traveling distances to mitigate the spread of this species. In the fall, you can also check the trees in your yard for lanternfly eggs and scrape them off. 


Photo courtesy of Richard Gardner,

If you have any questions about managing invasive species in your own backyard, check out our Conservation Land Improvement Program for landowners or email Carl Hutchinson.

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