The National Wildlife Federation defines an invasive species as, "any kind of living organism-an amphibian, plant, insect, fish, fungus, bacteria, or even an organism's seeds or eggs-that is not native to an ecosystem and which causes harm." While most things are very polite in their native settings, a number of them become thugs and bullies when they travel. Plants susceptible to frost behave themselves when winter's winds arrive, but in the sunny tropics, are nearly impossible to remove. Big box stores around the country are currently stocking their garden centers with many of these ‘bad guys' and it is up to the gardener to research potential purchases so they don't unwittingly plant a villain.

Some famous invasives that plague people from around the world are Kudzu, Pueraria phaseoloides, introduced to the southeast US from Japan and is now known as "the vine that ate The South". The European rabbit was introduced into Australia in 1788 and without natural predators, quickly multiplied into a massive population that has become a destructive force, decimating fields and crops. The introduction of the brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis, on the island of Guam resulted in the extinction of several native birds found nowhere else on earth. It is hard to believe that these seemingly innocent introductions could cause this much damage, but that is what happens when natural checks and balances are removed.

This is our third year to have the Invasive Species Photo Contest. It is a fun competition among friends to raise awareness about invasives and we hope you'll enter your images. We'd love to see entries from around the world and the only criteria are that the images must be your own and that the subjects are considered an invasive species. Here's the link to the contest page. You'll need to be logged in to enter, so let us know at the Helpdesk if you need assistance with that.

Here's a look back at last year's winners. They are stunning portrayals of invasive birds, plants, animals and insects. We hope that they inspire you to enter your own images. Each 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner will receive a year's subscription to Dave's Garden. Click the image to view the full-sized version and the runners-up.

Image

First Place: Invasive or Non-native Animals by DaylilySLP

invasive plant

First Place: Invasive or Non-native Plants by Metrosideros

invasive bird

First Place: Invasive or Non-native Birds by kwanjin

invasive bug

First Place: Invasive or non-native insects by Ginger749