50 Interesting Facts about Invasive Species

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26Red Foxes

Red Foxes

Australia uses Sodium fluoroacetate a.k.a. “1080” poison to kill mammalian invasive species such as cats and red foxes. It is found naturally in the plants of the region and native fauna has adapted to be immune to it.


27. Cane toads are an invasive species in Australia because don't have many predators due to the toxins found on their back. The only creature that has figured out how to eat it safely without ingesting its toxins are the Torresian Crows. They've learned to flip them over and then eat them.


28. Japanese barberry (a common garden plant) has been shown to increase tick abundance and Lyme disease. It is also an invasive species in America harming many local forests.


29. Armadillos are an invasive species from Central and South America. They weren't made popular as Texas souvenirs until the 1890s. They are also frequently carriers of leprosy.


30. Lampreys are a type of fish that have been around for 360 million years, have razor sharp teeth and can regenerate. They are now an invasive species in the Great Lakes. In just 12 months, one lamprey can kill more than 20 kg of fish. From the 1940s-60s, they caused lake trout yields to drop from 15 million pounds to 300,000 pounds.


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31Ballast Water

Ballast Water

Large ships use seawater as ballast. This water can contain all sorts of living organisms which when released, results in the spread of invasive species around the world. This has an economic impact of billions of dollars a year on the US alone.


32. In 1859, an Australian man named Thomas Austin released 24 rabbits for hunting into the wild. Prior to this, Australia had no native rabbit population. By 1920, their population increased to 10 billion. This is the fastest spread ever recorded of any mammal. In 1950, Australia conducted biological warfare against them by releasing a disease called Myxomatosis to control their population. It wiped out 500,000,000 rabbits by giving them skin tumors and causing blindness, often killing them within 2 weeks.


33. Python hunting is allowed in Florida's Everglades as a measure to control the non-native snake. Pythons were previously owned as pets and were released by their owners. These giant snakes have decimated local bird populations and wildlife because it has no known natural predators.


34. While camels now live in Australia as an invasive species, there are records of aboriginal people first seeing them. One man, Andy Tjilari, recalled following the camels with his family, concluding that "this horse is ignorant."


35. The wild boar is one of America's most problematic invasive species and an estimated 5-6 million pigs live across 35 states. They are continuing to spread and this is why there is a year-round open season on hunting feral hogs in many places in the USA.


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36North American Earthworms

North American Earthworms

Most of North America's earthworms are not native as all of its native earthworms were killed off by an ice sheet around 10,000 years ago. All earthworms in North America today are descended from those introduced by settlers in the 18th century. These are invasive and disrupt the network of fungus that help trees communicate, which is leading to trees in the north east to have much shorter lifespans.


37. Cats are known as both an invasive species and super-predators due to their ability to rapidly wipe out entire species of small fauna and they are only surpassed by humans.


38. Razorback pigs are an invasive species in the United States and are descended from domesticated pigs that escaped from one of the first Spanish explorations of North America in the 1500s.


39. In 1959, 3 goats were brought by fishermen to the Galapagos Islands. By 1970, there were 40,000 goats and by 1997, their population reached 250,000. That’s when the Galapagos Conservancy launched an all-out war against goats under the name Project Isabela, to save the dwindling population of Galapagos tortoises. Snipers were used to pick goats off from helicopters. It ended up restoring the population of the tortoises.


40. Ring Necked Parakeets are invasive species in Greater London Area, and there are over 30,000 of them apparently.


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41Alaskan King Crab

Alaskan King Crab

The Alaskan king crab is considered to be an invasive species in the Barents Sea (the Arctic Ocean between Norway and Russia). It is advancing southwards along the coast of Norway at around 50 km a year.


42. Macaques monkeys are currently an invasive species in a state park in Florida and they carry Herpes virus B which causes a form of herpes that leads to death in 40% of cases, and another 40% suffer brain damage.


43. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were revealed as specimens of the popular turtle pet species Red-eared Slider, leading to people keeping them as pets in Great Britain and causing ecological damage due to deliberate/accidental release. The turtle is listed on the IUCN's top 100 invasive species.


44. Georgia's state flower, the Cherokee Rose, is an invasive species from China.


45. The tree used for wood in Mesquite BBQ is an invasive species and a pest in Texas.


46Gypsy Moth Invasion

Gypsy Moth Invasion

In the 1860s, a man named Étienne Léopold Trouvelot attempted to cross-breed gypsy moths and silkworms in his backyard. The gypsy moths escaped containment and ended up becoming a veracious invasive species that cannot be controlled.


47. An insect named the Harlequin Ladybird is the world's most invasive species and fastest invading alien species in the UK. It is responsible for wiping out native ladybirds by up to 44%.


48. Multiflora Rose from Asia was once promoted as a "living fence" for soil conversation and animal husbandry. The plant is now considered an invasive species due to spreading rapidly and smothering out native species.


49. 1,000 invasive species have entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal since its opening in 1869.


50. A 2010 study suggests that invasive species may actually be inhibiting the formation of new species on Earth, which, as a result, could lead to significant losses in biodiversity while triggering mass extinction events.

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