Explore Biology

giant salviniabull thistleRed lionfish, a native of the western Pacific ocean, has invaded the southeast Atlantic coast of the United StatesA python constricting an alligator in the Everglades of Florida.  Pythons, originating in Africa and Asia, have become a significant invasive species in southern Florida.Yellow toadflax, originally from Europe and Asia, is now a common invasive plant in western United States.Emerald ash borer, originally from East Asia, has invaded forests in the eastern and midwestern United States.  The beetle has decimated ash trees in these areas.


We have all heard the famous phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  This phrase rings especially true in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species in our National Parks.  There are a variety of simple steps a visitor can take to ensure that they are not transporting invasive species into, around, or out of a park.  Listed below are several web resources, general tips, and other sources for information on preventing the spread of invasive species.

General tips for visitors to National Parks:

    Wasing off ATV
  • Wash your vehicle, especially if you have been driving on unpaved roads or off road. Plant materials can get stuck in your tires and undercarriage. This includes cars, bikes, and ATV's.

  • Thoroughly rinse your gear and pressure wash your boats, skis, and other recreation vehicles on site. Plants and aquatic organisms can get into any place water can get into. Use hot water if available.
  • Clean your Footwear
  • Clean your shoes or boots by knocking dirt and plant materials out of the treads.

     Consider carrying a boot brush in your car or pack.  Rinse the soles if possible.
  • Wear short gaitors to cover your socks and pant bottoms.  This will prevent sticky seeds, such as cheat grass, from getting stuck in your socks.
  • Shake out your tent, camp chairs, sleeping bags, and other camp accessories before leaving the campsite to remove any plant or seed materials.
  • Brush off your Pets

  • Brush off or wash your pets if they have been out romping in the parks. Sticky seeds can hitchhike on their fur.
  • Use local firewood. Do not bring in firewood from outside the immediate area. (Check park websites for specific instructions)
  • Clean off your animals & use weed seed free feed
  • Use weed seed free feed if possible when using pack animals, such as horses, mules, and cattle, prior to and during, you visit.  Contact the park you will be visiting to see if they have a list of local
  • vendors of weed seed free feed

Check with the parks you visit to specific prevention practices you can incorporate you’re your visits.


update on 08/12/2009  I   http://www.nature.nps.gov/biology/invasivespecies/Prevention.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster
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