National Invasive Species Week is February 26 to March 3. While it’s great to pay attention for the week, here are a few simple actions, one for each month, to help make a difference on the invasive species front:
*Note: This list was originally published in the January 8th edition of the Maui News.
January—check backyard first. Take a look in your own yard to see what invasive species you might be harboring– then remove ‘em! Backyards are often the source for plants and animals that escape to wreak havoc in our environment. If the plant or animal is a target for the Maui Invasive Species Committee, such as pampas grass or coqui frogs, call us and we’ll give you a hand.
February—be pest-savvy. The last week of February is National Invasive Species Awareness week. Take part by learning about a new invasive plant or animal and how to control or report it. Start at mauiisc.org, mauiinvasive.org, reportapest.org, or check for monthly editions of this column, then share what you know.
March—buy local—Maui local. Many pests are limited to just one island, but they spread when potted plants, cut flowers, equipment, even produce is moved between islands. Support Maui’s economy and protect our island by bringing home locally grown products. Avoid ordering seeds on the Internet as some plants may be invasive in Hawaii.April—clean your gear. Headed out diving, snorkeling or hiking? Give your gear a thorough rinse or scrub to remove any hitchhiking seeds (check the tongue of your boots), algae, or insect eggs before you head out. And don’t neglect to check your car periodically, both the underside as well as the inside.
May—volunteer. You will meet interesting people and learn more about Maui. Many groups have weekend volunteer trips where you can lend a hand removing invasive species or planting native species. Find an organization at hear.org/volunteer/maui/
June—survey your yard for the little fire ant. This tiny ant often arrives unnoticed, but it can become a huge problem. Currently no known infestations exist on Maui, but there is a high likelihood they will arrive again. Surveying is as easy as peanut butter and a chopstick. Learn more at lfa-hawaii.org
July—travel smart. Check twice before you bring something interisland. Plants and plant cuttings must be inspected by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture before being taken interisland to ensure there are no unwanted pests or diseases riding along.
August—take a hike, but with new eyes. Public reports are one of the best ways we learn about new invasive species. So cruise around the neighborhood, or go for a walk in the forest. See a bird you’ve never seen before or a new plant that looks like it’s taking over? Take a photo and let someone know.
September—be neighborly. Some invasive species problems are too big to tackle alone, but left unchecked will become everyone’s problem. Offer to help out your neighbors with an invasive species in their yard.
October—go native in your yard. Hawaiian plants have never been more available for landscaping. In addition to being a unique addition to your landscape, these species won’t be invasive and offer habitat for native animals. Another plus – these plants evolved to survive on rainfall, so when selected to match your climate, they can help you save water.
November—eat an invasive. The season of eating offers plenty of edible invasive species, from axis deer to pigs to. Make a meal, or part of a meal, in the spirit of removing invasive species. For more information (and recipes) check out invasivore.org.
December—celebrate in holiday style with an invasive pine tree. Each year Friends of Haleakala National Park and The Nature Conservancy lead December trips to remove invasive pines from areas in and near Haleakala National Park. Find details for the Friends trip at fhnp.org and for the TNC trip by calling 572-7849. Other trips may be listed in the newspaper.
This year make a resolution to help address invasive species— just one simple activity a month can add up to make a big difference in our community.
Article by Lissa Fox Strohecker
Originally published in the Maui News, January 8th, 2012 as part of the Kia‘i Moku Column.
You can find all the articles in the Kia‘i Moku series http://www.hear.org/misc/mauinews/