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Terrestrial Invasive Species in New York State

Official inspecting wood crates for hitchhiking invasive insects
Shipping crates can contain invasive insects.
Photo: Ethan Angell
NYS Dept of Agriculture and Markets

Terrestrial invasive species are land-living organisms that negatively impact our communities, fields and forests. They can decrease our enjoyment of nature, increase the cost of living and even put our health at risk.

Methods of Introduction

An unfortunate byproduct of world travel and trade is the introduction of unwanted invasive species. Shipping pallets and crates, luggage, the ballast water of boats and even people can unintentionally transport invasive plants, insects and diseases to new areas. Without knowing that they would become problematic, some species have been introduced intentionally for use in landscaping, agriculture and other purposes.

Impacts of Terrestrial Invasive Species

Invasive species impact all aspects of life, from recreation to livelihood. Spotted knapweed is an invasive plant that can take over crop fields, limiting crop production and feed for livestock. Hemlock woolly adelgid is an invasive insect that defoliates and kills hemlock trees, a key species in maintaining important habitat along waterways. Whether damaging the economy or the environment, invasive species can destroy the places we love and require costly solutions.

Examples of Terrestrial Invasive Species

Learn more about terrestrial invasive species of concern to New York State:

Spongy moth
Spongy moth
Photograph credit: Louis-Michel Nageleisen,
Département de la Santé des Forêts - France,
Forestry Images (leaves the DEC website)

How You Can Help

Prevent the Spread of Terrestrial Invasive Species

There are a lot of ways in which you can make a difference.

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General Tips

Tips for Campers, Hikers, Hunters, and Getting Outdoors

  • Seeds from invasive plants can easily stick to clothing
    Invasive plants can be spread through their
    seeds when they stick to clothing and gear.
    Seeds from invasive trailside plants often stick to clothing and get stuck in boot treads. Wear outer clothing that is not "seed-friendly." Wool, fleece, Velcro® and other fabrics that seeds easily cling to should be covered by jackets, pants and gaiters* made of smoother materials, like nylon. *Gaiters are garments worn over shoes and the lower part of the leg to protect from water and mud.
  • Avoid wearing footwear with deep tread, which collects plants, mud and other debris. When conditions/terrain call for deep tread, clean footwear thoroughly.
  • Remove any seeds from clothing, boots and equipment before and after you go outdoors. Carry a brush, small scissors, and other tools for cleaning clothing/gear. Look for and remove seeds, plant pieces, and insects on:
    • Hair and clothing
    • Gear and equipment
    • Vehicles and trailers
    • Dogs, horses, and other animals
  • Dispose of debris at designated cleaning stations or waste-disposal areas. If these areas are unavailable, clean in parking lots or driveways where invasive pests are unlikely to spread. Avoid cleaning near waterways; invasive species may spread to new areas downstream.
  • Stay on marked trails.
  • Invasive insects and diseases spread through the movement of firewood. Before bringing wood with you when camping or vacationing, check NYS's firewood regulation.
  • Hunting and possession of Eurasian boar is regulated in NYS. Check NYS's Eurasian boar regulation for more information.

Tips for Gardeners and Landscapers

Additional Resources

More about Terrestrial Invasive Species in New York State:

  • Firewood and Invasive Pests - New York's forests are under attack from numerous invasive exotic insect pests which can be moved around the country on and in firewood.
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