Invasive Plant Management Overview

Porcelain berries

The word “invasive” is accurate, because these plants are like an invading army, aggressively entering your property and oppressing native plants by taking their resources—light, soil, water—or outright killing them.

Like an invasion, property owners must “fight back.” It is important to remember, however, that there is no “silver bullet” when it comes to killing invasives. It requires residents to actively manage their properties by checking for invasive plants every summer.

Japanese Honeysuckle

Taking a weekend or two out of the season to deal with the invaders will prevent a much bigger problem in the future. One Island resident is doing just that.

It is important to note, however, that there is a difference between non-native and invasive plants. Non-native plants originated outside of our area, in Europe, Asia or elsewhere in the United States. But not all non-native plants are invasive. It could take years to happen. Honeysuckle was sold for 70 years before it became invasive.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

There is no way to tell if a non-native plant will ever become invasive, and some non-natives can benefit wildlife. Non-native Queen Anne’s lace is an example. While it can be invasive in some areas, it attracts some pollinators and certain insects, like the black swallowtail butterfly, which feeds on it, because it also feeds on a native plant closely-related to Queen Anne’s lace.

A second non-native example is Red clover, which has been here since Colonial times. Insects and other wildlife use them regularly, and we commonly plant them as a cover crop in restoration sites.

By Adam Mitchell, Associate Wildlife Biologist®
PhD Student, Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware