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Invasive Species on the Rise in CT

Images and stories from past Wingbeats

MileAMinuteLeaves Mile-A-Minute Weed

Mile-a-minute weed, or Asiatic tearthumb, is an herbaceous, annual, trailing vine. Stems are armed with recurved barbs which are also present on the underside of the leaf blades. The light green colored leaves are shaped like an equilateral (equal-sided) triangle and alternate along the narrow, delicate stems. Distinctive circular, cup-shaped leafy structures, called ocreae, surround the stem at nodes, thus the name 'perfoliata.'

Mile-A-Minute has now invaded Middletown's Nature Garden on Randolph Road. It was seen spreading over the understory under the "bee tree". Spotted in October 2017, it was bearing its clusters of blue seeds.

Mile-a-minute weed grows rapidly, scrambling over shrubs and other vegetation, blocking the foliage of covered plants from available light, and reducing their ability to photosynthesize, which stresses and weakens them. In addition, the weight and pressure of the vine causes distortion of stems and branches of covered plants. If left unchecked, reduced photosynthesis can kill a plant. Large infestations of mile-a-minute weed eventually reduce native plant species in natural areas. Small populations of extremely rare plants may be eliminated entirely. Because it can smother tree seedlings, mile-a- minute weed has a negative effect on Christmas tree farms, forestry operations on pine plantations and reforestation of natural areas. It has the potential to be a problem to nursery and horticulture crops that are not regularly tilled as a cultivation practice.

Mile-a-minute has been found in parts of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Mile-a-minute weed generally colonizes open and disturbed areas, along the edges of woods, wetlands, stream banks, and roadsides, and uncultivated open fields, resulting from both natural and human causes. Natural areas such as stream banks, parks, open space, road shoulders, forest edges and fence lines are all typical areas to find mile-a-minute. It also occurs in environments that are extremely wet with poor soil structure.

For more information on the management of Mile-A-Minute Weed, please contact: Judith Hough-Goldstein, University of Delaware, jhough at udel.edu; Judy Okay, Chesapeake Bay Program, jokay at chesapeakebay.net; Jil Swearingen, National Park Service, jil_swearingen at nps.gov

Mile a Minute weed

Persicaria perfoliata L.
photos courtesy IPANE.com

Garlic MustardPhotos: New Englakd Stewardship Network Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an aggressive alien invader and is difficult to control once established. If left unchecked, it will quickly dominate a woodland understory; its seeds remain viable in the ground for more than 5 years. This biennial plant is allelopathic (it emits chemicals that prevent the growth of other native plants). It also inhibits mychorrizal activity, the fungi-root associations critical for nutrient and water uptake in native plants.


It’s best initially to pull during flowering, before the plants produce seed.

Pull at the base of the plant—remove the entire root.

Pulled garlic mustard material will still complete flowering and set seed—do not leave it on the ground! Bag and dispose of pulled plants as garbage (not compost!).

Mowing garlic mustard is not an effective control because mowed plants will still flower and set seed. Especially, do not mow when seed pods are present (May–September).
Revisit pulled sites as often as possible to re-pull plants that sprout from left-behind root fragments. This is especially important later in the spring as seeds develop.
From: http://newengland.stewardshipnetwork.org

Yellow Groove Bamboo Photo by Caryn Rickel Yellow Groove Bamboo

Yellow groove bamboo, Phyllostachys aureosulcata, forms dense root clumps that are extremely difficult to remove. It is one of the easiest bamboos to identify, with a distinct yellow groove on the cane. Approximately 10% of the culms (canes) have an occasional zig-zag. The feel of the lower cane is rough like sandpaper. It is a giant, cold-hardy timber bamboo with a height of 15 to 40 feet.

Yellow groove is the most destructive and most invasive of the running bamboos. It forms dense monocultures and can easily break through asphalt driveways and grow up through wooden structures.

Locally, a quarter-acre infestation in Durham that was originally planted as 2 single rows of bamboo along the Wallingford right-of-way in 2009, is now 250 feet thick and threatens adjoining land.

According to Caryn Rickel of the Institute of Invasive Bamboo Research, this bamboo harbors histoplasmosis, as Black crows roost in this species. Caryn and the institute are working to educate Connecticut folks about this risk and to work for some laws about it. Contact her at 203 734 6344 ( evenings ok) or cri1611553@aol.com

List of invasions: http://www.eddmaps.org/profile.cfm?user=2610

Emerald Ash BorerEmerald Ash Borer

You may have noticed the purple traps that have been hung by the CT DEP in ash trees around our area. The traps monitor the presence (or lack of) the destructive Emerald Ash Borer. The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a non-native insect with the potential to have a devastating effect on the ash trees of Connecticut. This insect, a bark-boring beetle, is perilously close to our state, with a major outbreak outside of Kingston, NY, just 25 miles west of the state line. This insect can be easily moved in firewood and through other means. Because of that, the DEP is encouraging greater awareness of EAB, hoping to reduce the likelihood of its inadvertent spread. They also want to help prepare people for dealing with the insect, should it be found in Connecticut.

What is EAB?

EAB is a small (˝ inch), bright-green beetle that does its damage as a larva, feeding on the inner bark of ash trees. Its numbers build rapidly in an infestation, and these numbers will kill mature trees within 3–5 years. Its life cycle is between 1–2 years long, with the adults most likely to be found in June or July. Since the adult is small and only lives outside of the tree for a few weeks, the most likely way that the beetle will be found will be through the damage it causes to trees.

Anyone who suspects that they have found the insect or an infested tree is strongly encouraged to contact the State Entomologist at CAES (CAES.StateEntomologist@ct.gov or 203-974-8474). Take and send digital pictures, but do not move the wood or the insect!

In advance of an infestation, perhaps the most helpful steps for members of the general public are those that reduce the movement of raw wood over long distances. In particular:

Firewood should be sawn, purchased and used locally, so as to limit the opportunity for EAB and other pests to hitch a ride within the firewood pile.

A good source of identification material is University of Michigan. The EAB is doing much damage in the state of Michigan. http://www.anr.msu.edu/robertsd/ash/index.html

Japanese BarberryJapanese Barberry Linked to Lyme Disease

In an article in the New London Day, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s Department of Forestry and Agriculture scientists, Jeffrey Ward and Scott Williams, noted that tick abundance in barberry-infested areas is 67 percent higher than in areas where native plants predominate. And, that the percentage of ticks that carry Lyme bacteria is also higher in barberry areas: 126 infected ticks per acre vs. 10 per acre. After barberry removal, tick populations drop as much as 80 percent.

Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) seed is spread primarily by animal droppings, and it can sprout roots on any branches that touch the soil.

It can be eradicated by burning or by herbicides. Burning is the preferred method where infestation is near water. Removal is a two-step process, beginning with mechanical cutting with a brush saw or, in some cases, tearing up dense clusters with a small bulldozer. That is followed by selective application of herbicides or by burning with a setup of tank, torch, backpack, and safety equipment.

About barberry in your own yard, Ward says, “There are so many barberry in most forests, and they produce so many seeds, that removing the couple of plants in your yard is more symbolic than effective, sort of like using your finger to plug a leak in a dike,” he said. “Time, energy and money would be better spent first controlling barberry infestations in the woods and along trails.”

Because infestations can be wide-spread in forested areas, Ward suggests, “Start along a trail, do a section 50 feet wide along the trail, then go back and widen it,” he advised. “You’ll get a sense of accomplishment, and it reduces the risk of Lyme disease for you and your pets.”

Scientists predict a heavy tick infestation this year anyway, because of the very wet spring. http://www.theday.com/article/20110620/NWS01/306209953/ 1017

Water Chestnut has distinctive leaves which float on the water's surface in rosettes. Water Chestnut

Water Chestnut Invades Cromwell, Eustasia Island—Deep River, and Selden Cove

Water Chestnuts were found in a Cromwell inlet above Gildersleeve Island on the Connecticut River in July 2004. The sighting was reported to the DEP and pulled out of the inlet and disposed of. In late August, it was back again, and pulled out and displosed of by Larry and Pat. The DEP was notified of the pulling and continues to monitor this area, as well as any other areas where this invasive has been found. This annual species chokes water bodies making navigation impossible.

In July 2011, Water chestnut was also found in the inlet on the East side of Eustasia Island in the Connecticut River in Deep River. There is also a significant infestation on the north-east end of Selden Island Cove

Please report any other locations to the Connecticut DEP (860) 424-3034.

Trapa natans is not the edible water chestnut we buy in cans. Air bladders in stems allow leaf rosettes to float. Seeds are sharply-spiked with very hard shells, and can sprout after years of dormancy in the mud. It invades slow-moving water areas. If you see this invasive plant, please either notify the DEP immediately, and/or pull it (pull very slowly to allow roots to disengage from the mud) and dispose of it well away from any water body -- be sure to notify the DEP that you have done so (and where it was located).

In 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, a few stragglers were also removed by hand from the inlet. Overall, the eradication by hand-pulling seems to work extremely well. When pulling, tugging lightly and very slowly allows the mud to release the roots, and that helps eliminate re-growth.

Unfortunately, the same inlet is now becoming choked with Cabomba (invasive fanwort), as well as hosting most of the other invasive water weeds that plague our area including Asian milfoil and Curly-leaf pondweed. The Water Chestnut is the only invasive that is easily removed by hand, and the DEP has no funding to mechanically remove the other invasives, even though they are at least as much a threat as the Water Chestnut. The Cabomba volume has increased by at least double from 2007 to 2008.

Water ChestnutWater Chestnut

This dried Water Chestnut shell measures 1.75 inch spike to spike. These are often found in flotsam along the CT River -- would be pretty nasty to step on barefooted. The empty shells float off once their plant has sprouted in the mud.


Help Control This Invasive: Fanwort (Cabomba)

Please be on the lookout for any pieces of this nasty invader. Please check your boat, nets, and other equipment after use in any fresh water-body and remove and carefully dispose of any fragments of water weeds. Never dump aquarium plants or aquarium water into our natural water­bodies. Fanwort spreads extensively and very quickly, choking out native vegetation and hindering use of waterways.

Fanwort currently covers a large area towards the apex of a cove on the Connecticut River in Cromwell. It has tripled its area in the past few years. It is difficult to remove by hand because it is a fragile plant that is spread by small fragments. (Pulling causes it to break and spread.)

Cabomba Close up Cabomba in cove in Cromwell

Below: text excerpted from University of Maine website: Bulletin #2522, Fanwort, Cabomba

Fanwort is a highly competitive, densely growing, submerged aquatic plant. Upon introduction into a new water body it progressively colonizes near shore areas, where it crowds out native plants and may hinder recreational activities. In relatively shallow lakes and ponds, fanwort can colonize the entire water body. Dense infestations of fanwort can alter species relationships, affect fish habitat, and impede swimming and boating. Dense infestations can degrade aesthetic and scenic quality, directly influencing tourism and real estate values. Like many invasive aquatic plants, fanwort can reproduce from small fragments. In late summer fanwort stems become brittle, and plants tend to break apart, creating opportunities for spread. As with other invasive aquatic plants, fanwort is extremely difficult to remove once it becomes established.

Fanwort is a submerged aquatic plant that produces emergent flowers, and sometimes small floating leaves. It is a perennial, growing from short rhizomes with fibrous roots. Stems may grow up to thirty feet in length. Submerged leaves are one to two inches across, with petioles opposite on the stem. Leaves are finely dissected into thin, flat segments that give each leaf the appearance of an ornate fan—an attractive pattern that has made fanwort a popular aquarium plant. Floating leaves are smaller and are not dissected though they are sometimes split at the tip. Flowers are white, with three sepals and three petals, and are typically about a half-inch wide. Flowers are solitary, each on separate stems arising from the axils of the floating leaves. Fanwort may be found in ponds, lakes and quiet streams.

Fanwort is native to South America and some southern areas of North America. It is an aggressive species in northern and southern areas of the U.S. It has been widely used in the aquarium trade for a number of years, which has probably been the source of some local infestations as well as infestations in places as far away as Australia.

Prevention and Control: The best way to control this species, or any aquatic invader, is to prevent it from being introduced in the first place. Anyone engaged in water activities should be aware of the potential for the spread of invasive plants and take steps to prevent their introduction. Your actions can make a difference. Simple things you can do include inspecting boats, motors and trailers at the boat ramp before launching, and again after the boat has been hauled out. Prevent plant material from getting into bait buckets and live wells, and from getting tangled up in anchor ropes or fishing gear. Plants cleaned from boats and gear should be disposed of in a trash receptacle, or away from water on dry land.

Once established, invasive aquatic plants are extremely difficult to eradicate. Control has been attempted with water level manipulations, mechanical control and herbicides. In most cases, plants have survived attempts at control. Biological controls for invasive aquatics are still being researched and may help limit growth of some species in the future.

Crow, G.E. and C.B. Hellquist. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Northeastern North America. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.
Gleason, H.A. and A. Cronquist. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, Second Edition. New York: New York Botanical Garden, 1991.
Commonwealth of Australia and National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee. Weeds of National Significance, Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana), Strategic Plan, 2001.

Asian Longhorned Beetle UPDATE

Found in 2011 in Worster, Mass, this beetle is a serious pest in other parts of the world and can kill hardwood trees in roadside plantings, shelterbelts, and plantations. In the United States, the beetle prefers maple species.

ALB typically does not spread quickly on its own, but it can easily be inadvertently transported in untreated firewood and other forest products. Trees affected include: Boxelder, Norway, Red, Silver, and Sugar maples, Alders, Birches, Elms, Horsechestnut, Poplars, and Willows. A complete list of host trees in the United States, however, has not been determined. Previous infestations have occurred in New York, Illinois and New Jersey.

Residents suspecting they have seen ALB should report their findings to CAES at (203) 974-8474 or (203) 974-8485. Residents can also report sightings to APHIS via their website at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/.

With approximately 25,000 trees surveyed within the epicenter of the initial find of ALB in Jamaica Plain, NY and with NO NEW FINDS of ALB being detected there, survey work there is now being scaled back. Thus far, only 6 red maples at Faulkner Hospital, which were quickly removed and destroyed on July 6th, 2010, have been the only positive finds in that Regulated Area. In the Worcester Regulated Area, survey work and removal of infested trees continues. It is extremely important that we get the word out ASAP to everyone in the Boston, Brookline and Newton area to be on the lookout for adult Asian Longhorned Beetles, their exit holes, and egg-laying sites. Anyone seeing anything suspicious should report it immediately at http://massnrc.org/pests/albreport.aspx or toll-free: 1-866-702-9938. Take photos if you can. Spread the word, not the beetle! Get all the latest ALB news at: http://massnrc.org/pests/albInvasive Longhorn beetle

Wingbeat has often contained articles about invasive species. In spring, it’s time to prepare for the ongoing battle against the usual plant suspects – Oriental bittersweet, Multiflora rose, Japanese barberry, and a whole host of others. This year, we want to draw your attention to a new invasive that has the potential to change the character of New England like you’ve never seen. The Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) arrived in the US from China on packing materials. It was first discovered in 1996 in Brooklyn, NY and recently in Worcester, MA, where an eradication program has removed 19,000 trees as of mid-March. The entire quarantine area is 64 square miles, an area a little over the size of East Haddam. It is especially fond of maples. This insect could severely impact the foliage tourism and maple sugaring industries if not controlled.

Birders are asked to keep an eye out and up for the Asian longhorned beetle as it spends a good deal of time in the canopy of trees.

Key ID Features:
• The Asian longhorned beetle is 0.75” - 1.5” long with antennae that are 1 to 2 times its body length.
• Adults are shiny black with irregular white spots.
• Antennae have alternating black and white bands.
• Feet and antennae may have a bluish tinge.
• Adults are active from early summer through mid-fall.
• Adult females dig bowl-shaped holes in the bark, typically about 1/2 inch (15mm) in diameter, to bury their eggs in. These “oviposition pits” often appear orange in color.
• Larvae can grow to be 2.4 inches long (60mm), with many-segmented, off-white bodies and brown mouthparts. They burrow beneath the bark and are rarely seen.
• “Frass” or sawdust/wood shavings may be apparent around the base of infested trees. Severely impacted tree may have exposed wood where larval feeding galleries (tunneling) is visible.

Description of damage:
• Larvae damage the tree by eating away at the outer sapwood, beneath the bark layer, creating hollowed out galleries in the wood.
• Females chew dime-sized oval grooves in the bark to deposit their eggs.
• Exit holes 3/8” or larger in diameter (6-14mm) appear wherever adults have bored out of the tree.
• Sawdust may appear on the ground or on tree branches where adults have exited from the tree.
• Wounds caused by the beetles may ooze sap.
Similar species:
• The native whitespotted pine sawyer (Monochamus scutellatus) is also large and black but has less distinct white patches on the wing covers, no bluish tinge on the legs or antennae, and a distinctive white spot between the wing covers.
If you suspect a sighting call toll free: 866-702-9938.

Note the day and location where you found the beetle. Capture the beetle and freeze if possible or keep in a cool place.

Giant HogweedGiant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), an invasive, non- native plant confirmed in 2001 as a new state record (West Cornwall) continued to persist in 2002.

  • Biennial or perennial herbaceous plant
  • Habitat: riverbanks, disturbed sites
  • Up to 15 feet in height
  • Leaves up to 5 feet wide
  • Hollow stems 2–4 inches in diameter
  • White umbel-shaped inflorescence 2.5 feet across
  • Seeds remain viable in soil for up to 7 years

Giant Hogweed


  • Sap causes large painful blisters
  • Sap acts as anti-sunscreen
  • Eye contact may result in blindness
  • Displaces native vegetation



  • CONTACT Donna Ellis or the CT Invasive Plant Working Group to report location before removing.
  • Avoid skin and eye contact with sap.
  • Wear goggles, waterproof gloves, long sleeves
  • Have several large plastic trash bags ready for disposing of flowers and seeds. Double or triple the bags to prevent ripping by plant stems.
  • Use sharp serrated knife rather than motorized blades that may splatter sap on you
  • Cut flowers first, and place in bags.
  • Avoid shedding any seeds onto ground.
  • Seal bags tightly and place in direct sunlight to solarize for at least 1 week.
  • After solarization, put bags into garbage.
  • Dig out roots and allow to dry before disposal. (For small plants and seedlings), or,
  • Cut to ground level, cover with black plastic. Following year, check that plants don’t poke through, or
  • Spray leaves with herbicide containing glyphosate (Roundup). Follow label directions (use in Summer). May take up to a week before plant begins to die.
  • Repeat in 2 weeks if leaves are still green.
  • Check plant site and surrounding areas for several (up to 7) years to monitor regrowth or germination.
If you have seen Giant Hogweed in Connecticut, please contact Donna Ellis at the University of Connecticut (860-486-6448; donna.ellis@uconn.edu) or Elizabeth Corrigan (elizabethcorrigan@yahoo.com).

Japanese Wharf Crab

Hemigrapsus sanguinius

This rather recent invader has only been in the U.S. about 15 years total. They're being tracked all along the Northern/Central East Coast. By reports, they are out-competing the Green Crab, which is sometimes labeled a native species, although the Green Crab may also be a non-native. Hemigrapsus lives in muddy rocky, or sandy rocky areas near the low tide line. Note that its body shape is different from our other local crabs. Hemigrapsus is square-backed, our other crabs are wide-backed, some, like the blue crab and sand crab, having pointy sides, some, like the rock crab having rounded sides. Fiddler crabs are more square than our other native crabs, but not nearly as square as Hemigrapsus.

The Green Crab is also a non-native species, but it's been here for more than 100 years. Green crab



Hemigrapsus sanguinariaHemigrapsus



Hemigrapsus Sanguinius


The Common Reed
Phragmites Communis

It has not been determined if this tall reed is truly native, or is an imported variant of our native reed, but the species has changed its behavior. It has become extremely invasive, taking over wet meadows and marshes which had been shorter salt marsh grasses.





Purple Loosestrife

This invasive species probably came into the U.S. as a garden species.It easily out-competes our native vegetation, turning swamps and wet meadows magenta with their flowers.Garden Loosestrife is a very similar garden species which is still sold in some area nurseries, and is still found in home flower gardens. It also is very invasive and should be avoided. If you find either species in your home garden, please destroy the plants. Liatris makes a good substitute. It's a vigorous grower, about the same height and close to the same color.

Purple Loostriife