Did you know that our economy and natural environment are under siege by plant and animal invaders?
Invasions of exotic (non-native) species cost Floridians over $500 million each year! Our public lands, parks and preserves are very vulnerable to invasion by exotic plant and animal species and most of these invasive species are coming from our homes and gardens. The Burmese python, Cuban tree frog, tegu lizard, monk parakeets, lionfish, Brazilian peppertree, carrotwood and Australian pine are just a few of these invasive species.
Invasive species are harmful to our natural resources (fish, wildlife, plants and overall ecosystem health) because they disrupt natural communities and ecological processes. The native species in that ecosystem are harmed because they are suddenly competing with a new species for the same resources (food, water, shelter, etc.).
There are things we can do to help. First and foremost – don’t let it loose. If you have a pet you can no longer care for, find a home for it or take it to an amnesty day. When you travel – don’t pack a pest. Bring nothing back to Florida unless it has been okayed by customs. Learn to identify invasive exotic plants and remove them from your yard. Check out DONTLETITLOOSE.org for more information.
Let’s celebrate National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Feb 20-28 by learning about invasive species and doing something to help our native environment.