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Science and Environment

Citizen Watchdogs Needed To Prevent Spread Of Invasive Species In Indiana

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Reporting an unfamiliar plant or bug that you see can stop invasive species from spreading. Experts highlighted the importance of citizen watchdogs at this year’s Indiana Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area conference.

Last year, the Asian longhorned beetle was almost introduced in Indiana. State Entomologist Megan Abraham said an employee at a LaPorte County business spotted the beetle — which likely came from a wood pallet that hadn’t been properly heat-treated.

Because he sent a photo of the beetle to the Department of Natural Resources, the agency was able to search the area and alert other businesses.

“So far, so good. We haven’t found anything, but because we found that spot in 2020, we’ll continue to survey that area for the next few years," Abraham said.

Abraham said if it wasn’t for a man in Switzerland County, the DNR probably wouldn’t have found the spotted lanternfly — an insect that harms vineyards and fruit trees — for years.

“It was a gentleman out on his front porch drinking a coffee, looked at his walnut tree and saw that insect crawling around on it," she said.

The DNR hopes the public will keep an eye out for these species and other invasives that could come into Indiana — like the snakehead fish and an insect called hemlock wooly adelgid.

READ MORE: Invasive Insect That Harms Wine Grapes, Fruit Trees Spotted In Indiana

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues.

How You Can Help:

The Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (EDD Maps) has an app for your smartphone that has photos of invasive species that have either been found in Indiana or are likely to get introduced in the state. You can use the app or the EDD Maps website to report a sighting of an invasive species in your area.

If you don’t have a smartphone, the Indiana DNR has a list of invasive species online and how to report them. For identifying aquatic invasive plants and animals, check out the U.S. Geological Survey’s list

Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasive Species Management (SICIM) also has several resources to help you identify invasive plants, control them, get help from local invasives experts, and get ideas on what native plants to plant in their place. The Indiana Native Plant Society has more info on adding native plants to your yard.

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.