In the western U.S. and Hawaii, some invasive species are especially sneaky, disguising themselves as beautiful flowers or charismatic creatures. But these villains are wreaking havoc on our lands and waters.
Don't be fooled—take a guess at some of the worst offenders (answers below).
1) Hawai'i: This vine from South America has smothered over 70,000 acres of prime native forest in Hawai'i. Hardest hit have been the koa forests, which supply renowned hardwood and support rare birds and plants.
2) Arizona: This flowering plant is sold widely in plant nurseries, but is a difficult invasive once established. Volunteers spend hours trying to rid it along Ramsey Creek in Arizona's Ramsey Canyon Preserve.
3) New Mexico: These invaders are wreaking havoc, spreading disease and displacing wildlife. As much as 60 percent of their diet consists of frogs, lizards, snakes, birds and their eggs, and even deer fawns.
4) Colorado River: In the San Juan River and throughout the Colorado River Basin, this fish is causing havoc, thriving on a diet of Russian olive seeds, mice and native fish.
5) Wyoming: This is most often the iconic plant seen rolling across a lonely highway. But they can refer to any plant that dries out and tumbles away from its root.
6) Utah: Visitors to the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve often note the tall, feathery invasive plant is a threat to the lake's fragile ecosystem that supports millions of migratory birds.
7) Colorado: Planted in Colorado mountain communities as “wildlflowers,” these plants but are taking over meadows and showing up along roads and highways.
8) California/Nevada: In some places, these fish are native and highly prized by anglers, but across the western U.S., they’re a big threat to native fish. At Independence Lake Preserve, for example, they compete with and prey on one of only two remaining wild, self-sustaining lake populations of Lahontan cutthroat trout in the world.
Answers: 1) Banana poka, 2) Vinca, 3) Feral hogs, 4) Channel catfish, 5) Russian thistle, 6) Phragmites reeds, 7) Scentless chamomille, 8) Brook trout