Invasive Species of Indiana

The Nature Conservancy in Indiana spends both its time and money to prevent the spread of a number of species that threaten the health of the state's ecosystem.

Brought to the U.S. for use in landscaping, erosion control, and for wildlife habitat, Asian bush honeysuckle spreads rapidly, decreasing tree growth and regeneration and preventing forest wildflowers and grasses from growing underneath. The bush’s berries, while abundant, provide little nutritional value to birds that eat them.

Asian Longhorned Beetles lay their eggs by creating tunnels inside trees, eventually killing the tree. Fortunately, it has yet to establish a foothold in Indiana, but landowners are encouraged to report any dime-sized exit holes found in tree trunks.

Autumn olive creates a dense shade that hinders the growth of plants that need lots of sun. It produces up to 200,000 seeds each year that are spread by birds, allowing it to reproduce and spread rapidly throughout prairies, pastures, along roadsides and near fences.

Found near open wetland habitats, rivers, lakes and ponds, Common reed competes with native wetland plants, and it plays to win. Once introduced, the plant quickly crowds out native vegetation, changing marsh hydrology, altering wildlife habitat and increasing fire potential.

Though small in size, Emerald ash borers can cause some major damage to their food of choice: ash trees. Ash borer larvae tunnel their way into the tree and feed under the bark. Ash Borers spread by flying, firewood transport, or planting infested trees in landscaping.

Considered one of the ten most destructive invasive species in Indiana today, garlic mustard is found throughout Indiana. Each plant produces thousands of seeds that spread by wildlife, humans, water, or other means. It decreases plant diversity, tree regeneration and growth, and butterfly diversity.

Hydrilla is a submerged aquatic plant with heavily branched stems that forms dense mats on the top of lakes and waterways, thus forcing native plant species to compete for sparse nutrients and sunlight.

First introduced through its use in packing material for porcelain, Japanese stiltgrass creates a lawn in a forest understory threatening the forest community. Hikers’ boots often transport stilt grass seeds, so it is important to clean your boot treads and make sure you’re not bringing an invasive plant into a natural area.

Tree of Heaven is popular for use in urban landscaping due to its ease of establishment, rapid growth and absence of insect or disease problems. The tree, however, moves into forests and can quickly outgrow native trees and displace them.