Anytime an invasive species is introduced to the land or water around your home, it can wreak havoc on the environment around you. When an organism, that is not naturally part of an ecosystem gets introduced to an area, there can be dangerous results. According to Marine Sanctuary, "invasive species can include permanent habitat alteration, which could change the chemicals of an environment. Extinction of the species is vital." 

Back in June, we discussed 9 of Iowa's worst invasive plants. Today (August-17) we're going to talk about the most common invasive animals/insects in the state of Iowa, with a little bit of help from the Des Moines Register.

Iowa's Most Common Invasive Animals and Insects

American Bullfrog

Unsplash - Maddy Weiss
Unsplash - Maddy Weiss

I was a bit surprised to see this animal on the Des Moines Register list because you can find them everywhere. They spend plenty of time around the Mississippi River and are pretty common in Iowa. According to UNL Digital Commons, "Bullfrogs typically become dominant because of their large size and voracious appetite. Bullfrogs outcompete and prey upon many indigenous species."

Jumping Worm

These things are creepy. A jumping worm is a type of earthworm that behaves a lot differently than a typical earthworm. Jumping worms thrash and wiggle around more like a snake when they are threatened. I've heard they make for good fishing bait. If you find a jumping worm, kill it.

Big Head/Common Carp

Bighead carp tend to be a lot bigger than the common carp but they both are considered invasive species in Iowa. This thing is huge! According to National Park Service, "Carp lay thousands of eggs at a time, which means populations can grow and spread quickly. This can lead to carp out-competing native species and put ecosystems in danger."

European Starling

Unsplash - John Yunker
Unsplash - John Yunker

These birds are not only invasive in Iowa but they are considered invasive to the entire country. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, these birds are able to easily adapt to many different habitats, nest sites, and food sources. This allows them to spread easily and quickly across the country. You can oftentimes catch them traveling with a group of blackbirds.

I know these next few are insects but I've lumped them into the "animals" category" for this article.

Common Pine Shoot Beetle/Larger Pine Shoot Beetle

In this video, they refer to these as the "wood-boring Beatles" and these little guys can cause a LOT of damage. According to the Invasive Species Centre, "heavy PSB infestations can cause severe damage to pine shoots and a single adult pine shoot beetle can destroy up to 6 tree branches during its maturation period." These beetles can take out entire pine tree populations.

Japanese Beetle

Unsplash - Oktavianus Mulyadi
Unsplash - Oktavianus Mulyadi

This beetle is a species of the scarab beetle. These beetles can be found in yards and gardens just about anywhere in the state of Iowa. According to the Us Department of Agriculture, this pest can be highly destructive to plants and can be very difficult/expensive to keep under control. Adults attack flowers, fruits, foliage, and more than 300 different ornamental and agricultural plants.

Large Aspen Tortrix

Say that name 3x fast...The large Aspen Tortix is a giant moth that destroys plants and trees. According to US Forest Service, "aspen larvae will feed on broad-leaved trees, such as alder, birch, cotton-wood, chokecherry, and willow. They may also consume foliage of understory plants when they're starving." These things creep me out.

Black Cutworm

Iowa corn farmers have possibly heard of this invasive species. The black cutworm poses one of the most serious threats out of all of these invasive animals/insects we've mentioned today. According to the Iowa State University Crop Management, "young cutworm larvae can create holes in corn leaves or may cut small weeds. Feeding by young larvae is usually not as significant but it can pose a threat to severe injury later."

Black cutworm larvae can actually kill plants and a single adult can kill as many as 5 corn plants during its lifetime.

This common invasive species list was created by the Des Moines Register and if you do come across any of these animals/insects, you should report the species infestation to your local, county, state, or federal government agency. When traveling, make sure to clean off your gear, clothes, animals, boats, etc, to prevent the spread of invasive species.

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