Invasive species of the Catskills


The Catskills mountains is primarily recognized through its stunning scenery, fresh waters, untouched wildlife, regal forests, and welcoming communities. The Catskill Park, is the heart of our region and one of the largest and ecologically diverse natural areas in the East. The Catskill Mountains, or the Catskills, are a large area in the southern eastern portion of the U.S. state of New York. The Catskills form the northeastern end of, and highest-elevation portion of, the Allegheny Plateau (also known as the Appalachian Plateau). The Catskills scenery has also heavily inspired the art and music communities producing beautiful works of landscape art and country music due to its unique landscape and community.


Invasive species are species that are not native to a particular ecosystem and can cause significant damage to the native species, environment, and the surrounding economy this has been very prevalent for the catskill community in the recent years since there has been a spike of invasive species pushing the native species out of there habitats.


download.jpg What Can New York Do prevent Invasive species?

  • Clean, drain, and dry all watercraft, trailers and gear after and before visiting a waterbody.
  • Buy and burn local firewood.
  • Use native plants in gardening and landscaping.
  • Be a responsible aquarium and exotic pet owner—never dump or release species into the wild.
  • Control/Mapping
  • Trainings on Best Management and Practices.


  Examples of invasive species:


Dame’s rocket:Management/Identification:

Dame’s rocket, is an invasive species native to Eurasia. The Dame rocket crowds out native vegetation with their great numbers of seeds. Many people think that it is a native wildflower therefore it is planted in gardens, and is often sold in “native” wildflower mixes thus spreading undetected.

Habitat: It grows in moist woodlands, woodland edges, roadsides, railroad right-of-ways, disturbed sites, waste ground, thickets, and open areas.71Hs+4F6ImL._SX425_.jpg

Removal: Dame’s rocket can be effectively controlled using any of several readily available general use herbicides such as glyphosate.


Leaves: The leaves alternate along the stalk decreasing in size each leaf is directly attached to the stalk.


Flowers: The flowers can be found at the top of the flowering stalk in a lose cluster commonly violet, pink or white (4 petals).


Common pokeweed:Management/Identification:

Common pokeweed, is native to the southeastern United States, but is increasingly popping up around the Pacific Northwest. The common pokeweed acts as a perennial and if left unmanaged the pokeweed can form dense patches and overwhelm native plants and trees. This damages the region’s natural areas and parks, which we depend on for clean water, wildlife habitat, recreation and other benefits.T65FFAW42SP7WGW552OMYESECA.jpg

Removal: Apply glyphosate directly to the leaves of the plant to kill it. This acts through the vascular system and while it takes a while to see results, eventually the chemical reaches the roots


Habitat: The Common pokeweed  invades a variety of different habitats from open fields to dense forests.


Stems: Branch from the root crown at the base of the plant, erect, large, smooth, purple-tinged.

Fruit: A berry, 7-12 mm, green when immature, dark-purple to black when mature. Contain a dark red juice.

Leaves: Alternate along the stem, 3 1/2-12 inches long, 1-4 inches wide, egg-shaped, petiolated, without hairs, and are smaller in size toward the top of the plant.


Mile-a-minute weed:Management/Identification:

Mile-a-minute weed, is a barbed vine that smothers other herbaceous plants, shrubs and even trees by growing over them at alarming rates. The mile-a-minute weed forms dense mats that cover other plants and then stresses and weakens them through smothering and physically damaging them. Sunlight is blocked, decreasing the covered plant’s ability to photosynthesiz thus outcompeting.


Removal: There are many methods that work towards removing the mile-a-minute weed depending on the conditions and location each method will effect the colony differently Biological Control, Mechanical Control and Chemical Control will each be effective depending on the size and conditions of the infestation. 

Habitat: The mile-a-minute weed is generally found colonizing natural and man-made disturbed and open areas and along the edges of woods, streams, wetlands, uncultivated fields, and roads.


Leaves: Its leaves are light green, 4 to 7 cm long and 5 to 9 cm wide, and shaped like an equilateral triangle.

vines/stem: The mile-a-minute vines are narrow and delicate, becoming woody and reddish with time. The vines are covered in recurved barbs that aid in its ability to climb.


The curly-leaved pondweed:Management/Identification:

The curly-leaved pondweed, is a species of aquatic plant native to Eurasia but an introduced species and often a noxious (poisonous) weed in North America. The curly-leaved pondweed quickly forms dense mats at the water surface of lakes and rivers  shading out later growing native plants

RemovalUsing a broad spectrum contact herbicide, such as Ultra PondWeed Defense will quickly kill Curly Leaf Pondweed

5447255.jpgHabitat: The curly-leaved pondweed is a submerged, aquatic plant that can tolerate a variety of different aquatic and slow-moving bodies of water.     


Leaves: Curly-leaf pondweed leaves are somewhat stiff and crinkled with finely serrated ends, approximately 1/2 inch wide and two to three inches long.

Stem: Thin and long can grow up to 18/23 inches.


Myriophyllum spicatum:Management/Identification:

Myriophyllum spicatum, is native to Europe, Asia, and north Africa and is a submerged aquatic plant, that grows in still or slow-moving water, and is considered to be a highly invasive species the Matted milfoil can displace native aquatic plants, impacting fish and surrounding wildlife.

Removal: Eurasian-Myriophyllum-spicatum.png

  • Myriophyllum spicatum can be removed by raking or  it from the pond, but will re-establish from any remaining fragments and roots.
  • Non-toxic dyes or colorants can be used to prevent or reduce aquatic plant growth by limiting sunlight penetrationEurasian-water-milfoil.jpg


Habitat: Myriophyllum spicatum is a submerged, aquatic plant that can tolerate a variety of different aquatic habitats for example lakes, ponds.

Identification: Myriophyllum spicatum has thin stringy stems that are covered in feathery leaflets in whorls of 4 around the stem tip of the stem may have a reddish cast resembling a flower.


Drosophila suzukii:Management/Identification:

Drosophila suzukii, is a fruit fly originally from southeast Asia, and is becoming a major pest species in America and Europe, because it infests fruit during the early ripening stages stunting full development of the plants.


Identification:    SWD Identification Chart

Removal: There has been limited research on treatments to manage spotted wing drosophila however chemical control such as pesticides have shown effective.






Habitat: Drosophila suzukii need host plants such as cheery or apple trees to live.


Starry stonewort:Management/Identification:

Starry stonewort, is an invasive algae with a plantlike structure that is native to Eurasia. It was likely introduced to the Great Lakes from ballast water and has spread to inland lakes in New York. Its dense mats of vegetation negatively impact native fish spawning and outcompeting native plants that provide food and shelter for native

aisssprog-1.jpginvertebrates and fish.

Removal: Both chemical (herbicide) and manual (hand-pulling and harvesting) controls have been used with varying success.

Habitat: Can live in most fresh aquatic habitats lakes, ponds.

Starrystonewortbulbil_504600_7.jpg         Identification

Leaves: Whorls (leaves) of 4-6 branchlets with blunt tips, irregular length branchlets are arranged along the main stem.

Flower: Star-shaped bulbils are produced at the nodes, generally 3-6 mm wide

Length: Can reach up to 33 inches long


Invasive Japanese Barberry:Management/Identification:

The Invasive Japanese Barberry, is a non-native woody plant that can grow 3 to 6 feet tall with a similar width. This plant can dominate deep in the woods and along woodland edges crowding out native plants and disrupting these ecosystems in the process. Research has shown that the presence of the black-legged tick, which transmits Lyme disease, increases in areas with dense barberry.    GettyImages-528067872-Japanesebarberry-1024x680.jpg

Removal: Herbicides is good method to remove well established infestations however if your dealing with fewer plants pulling and cutting will be more effective.

Habitat: The Japanese Barberry tolerates a variety of different habitats from damp lowlands to dry roadsides  and waste places.



Leaves: The semi-evergreen leaves are alternate, or grow in alternate clusters

Stems: Twigs are brown, three-ridged downward from the node, with simple thorns.


Fruits: Berries are red and are often present through winter. Fruit matures May-September.



Honeysuckle, is native to Central Asia and Southern Russia, several species of honeysuckle are found in NY that have been characterized as invasive All three invasive honeysuckle species can form very dense populations that can outcompete and suppress the growth of native plant species.

Removal:  In early stages of invasion, or in cases where populations are at low levels, hand removal of honeysuckle seedlings and young plants or Systemic herbicides can be utilized in cases of heavy infestation.


Habitat: All four species are successful invaders of a similar range of habitats such as abandoned fields, pastures, early successional, and open canopy and forests.



Garlic mustard:Management/Identification:

Garlic mustard, is a non native invasive herb originating from Europe and parts of Asia that has spread throughout much of the United States choking-out native plants by controlling light water and nutrient resources becoming one of the worst invaders of forests in the American Northeast and Midwest.

Removal:  Hand-pulling individual plants is effective if the entire root

garlic_mustard_flowering.jpg is removed however herbicide may be needed for large, denser infestations and should be applied in the spring or fall on seedlings and rosettes.


  • First year plants are low-growing rosettes with rounded, kidney-shaped leaves, scalloped on the edges
  • Leaves are not noticeably fuzzy or hairy (unlike most look-alike species)
  • Upper leaves on mature plants are more triangular, becoming smaller toward the top of the plant, coarsely toothed
  • Plants often smell like garlic, especiatlly when leaves are crushed

Habitat: The preferred habitat for garlic mustard can be in an upland or floodplain forest, savanna, roadside, trail edge, or disturbed area.


Zebra mussel:Management/Identification:

Zebra mussel, is a small freshwater mussel originally native to the lakes of southern Russia and Ukraine. However the zebra mussel and has become an invasive species in many countries worldwide.

Removal: Boats and equipment may be pressure washed to remove small infections or Pesticides can be used to remove a larger scale infestations.zebra_mussel_13.jpg

Identification: Zebra mussel look like small clams with a yellowish or brownish “D”-shaped shell, usually with dark and light-colored stripes they can grow up to two inches long but they are most commonly an inch.

Habitat: Zebra mussels live in still or slow-moving freshwater, and attach themselves to any hard surface under water, natural or man-made, including rocks, submerged wood, boat hulls, buoys, docks, and water intake pipes.


Brazilian waterweed:Management/Identification:

Brazilian waterweed, is a species of Egeria native to warm temperate South America in southeastern Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. It is considered a highly ambiguous invasive species due to its use in home aquariums and subsequent release into non-native habitats

Removal: Prevention followed by early detection and rapid response is critical for managing the Brazilian waterweed Control of the plants growth is possible with herbicides such as diquat, fluridone. Mechanical removal for well46229731082_269ed272a7_b.jpg-established populations is believed to be ineffective. However, control of small populations by mechanical efforts can be effective if fragments and roots are completely removed.

Identification: Leaves and stems are generally bright green (often dark green when below the surface of the water) and the short internodes give this plant a very leafy appearance. Stems are erect, cylindrical, simple or branched, and grow until they reach the surface of the water, where they form dense mats.

Size: 3-5 m long, 2-2.5 mm diameter.

Habitat: Brazilian waterweed grows in standing or slow-flowing freshwater systems. It especially thrives in warm, slow-moving water that has high nutrient availability.


Hemlock woolly adelgid:Management/Identification:

The hemlock woolly adelgid, is an invasive insect that poses a serious threat to the forest and ornamental hemlock it feeds by sucking sap from hemlock and spruce trees the hemlock woolly adelgid dose not pose as a threat in there native habitat however there main predator have been remove so there numbers can grow uncontrollably.


Removal: Currently, the two approaches for managing HWA infestations are chemical insecticides and the use of natural enemy predator species as biological control such as golden flies.

Identification: HWA are most easily recognized by the white “woolly” masses of wax produced by females in late winter.

Signs of infestation:

  • White woolly masses (ovisacs) about one-quarter the size of a cotton swab on the underside of branches at the base of needles
  • Needle loss and branch dieback
  • Gray-tinted needles



Giant Hogweed:Management/Identification:

Giant Hogweed, a gigantic member of the carrot family has the potential to cause serious damage due to its ability to cause permanent scarring with an acidic sap its large size over shadow native plants by blocking sunlight and stunting there ability to grow and get basic nutrition.Giant_hogweed010_Barker_1.jpg

Removal: You can cut the root of young plants with a sharp round shovel. Start at the beginning of the spring and repeat every two weeks in order to weaken the plants repeat every-year to completely ataractic.

Handling: Cover all parts of your body with non-absorbent garments (synthetic and waterproof materials) Protect eyes use glasses or visor.

Flowers: The flowers of giant hogweed are white they grow on a single stem, forming clusters of rounded flowers at then tips of the stems called umbels.

Leaves: The leaves are divided into 1 to 3 deeply cut, pointed leaflets and the underside of giant hogweed leaves are smooth or slightly scaly.

Habitat: lowland streams and rivers, but also occurs widely on waste ground and in rough pastures. It grows on moist fertile soils, achieving its greatest stature in partial shade


Common reed:Management/Identification:

Common reed, can quickly created dense and tight vegetation that has the potential to shade the surrounding native species turning rich habitats into monocultures devoid of the diversity needed to support a once thriving ecosystem.



  • Prescribed burns have been shown effective when conditions are right.
  • Herbicides are available for the common reed best suited for a newer colony.
  •  Manipulating the water level around The reeds  has shown to decrees the population in some conditions.
  • Repeated mowing may produce short-term results.

Habitat: The non-native Common reed ; a macrophytes, is ubiquitous, growing in roadside ditches and swales, wetlands, freshwater and brackish marshes, river, lake and pond edges, and disturbed areas.

Leaves: Smooth, lance shaped, can reach over 1 ft in length

Stem: Hollow and rough to the touch

Flower:  Feathery,  blooms at the end of the stem, composed of densely packed fruit.


Common buckthorn:Management/Identification:

Common buckthorns, forms thick hedges with long branches that crowd out and shade out native shrub and herbaceous species preventing basic regeneration of native plants the common buckthorn is native to most of Europe.         5457255.jpg

RemovalThere multiple ways to combat the spreading of the Common buckthorn  including mowing, excavation, cutting and burning. Repeated mowing and cutting has been shown to reduce the vigor of the plants pesticides have also been very effective for longterm removal.


Habitat: The common buckthorn occupies a range of habitats: dry open forests, alkaline fens, sunny open sites however it has been found many unlikely habitats including roadsides, old fields, prairie fens, savannas and a variety of woodlands due to it being out of its native habitat.

Flowers: Inconspicuous, small and clustered in leaf axils. Fragrant, greenish-yellow, 4-petaled flowers that bloom in spring.

Leaves & stems: Ovate or elliptic, with prominent veins curving toward tip

Roots: Extensive, black fibrous root system.

origins: First brought to Minnesota from Europe in the mid-1800s.


Japanese knotweed:Management/Identification:

Japanese knotweed, is native to japan the native aquatic species are not able to process the knotweed leaves as well as threatening the native species, Japanese knotweed can cause some environmental issues. BohemianKnotweedRagingRiver.jpg

Removal: To remove Japanese knotweed cut canes and allow them to dry out, then burn them. On no account add them to your normal household waste.

Leaves: Lush green, heart or shovel shaped leaves

Flowers: Clusters (Panicles) of small creamy white flowers

Habitatdomestic gardens, Riverbanks, wooded area. Further identification


Northern Snakehead:Management/Identification:

Northern Snakehead, a commonly know predatory fish from Asia, are extreme eaters that could patently reduce or eliminate native fish. The aquatic communities may suffer losses if the Northern Snakeheads should continue to populate the Catskills rivers.


RemovalThe potential control methods for a snakehead infestation are limited however Physical removal of the fish using nets, traps, angling, electrofishing or biological control by introduction of predators are likely to be successful for small infestations. If the infestation is believed to be to a more than a few individuals the above techniques may be unsuccessful in removing the selected organisms.

Appearance: The northern snakehead has a long, thin body that can grow to 47 inches and 15 pounds. It has a somewhat flattened head with eyes located in a dorsolateral position.

Habitat: Ponds, lakes, streams, rivers and other freshwater areas. Can live out of water for up to four days if kept moist and will lie dormant in mud during droughts.

Range: Found in the Potomac River and several of its tributaries in Maryland and Virginia. Native to China, Russia and Korea.


Spotted lantern-fly:Management/Identification

Spotted lantern-fly, is an invasive species from Asia that primarily feeds on wide variety of fauna such as grape vines, maple, walnuts, and fruit trees, this insect can impact New York’s agricultural community as well as the lush forests.

RemovalRemoving or destroying eggs will decrease numbers over time or for quicker alternative put pesticides on targeted trees/plants.


Appearance: The spotted lantern-fly is about an inch long and half an inch wide. The forewings are gray with black spots. When flying, it exposes its red and black-hind wings. The lantern-fly has a black head, black legs and a yellow abdomen with black bands.

Habitat: Spotted lantern-flies can live on a variety of host plants, including fruit trees, grape vines and various hardwoods. Their preferred host, especially as adults, is the tree-of-heaven, which is also an invasive species.

Range: The spotted lantern-fly has been seen in parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and Virginia.

Potential: Stilling grow outwards at a rate of ten miles each year they have the potential to destroy the keystone states wine, craft beer, wood and apple products.




Hydrilla, is one of the most difficult invasive species to control and eradicate due to the dense consistency can have negative impacts on recreation, tourism and aquatic ecosystems.


Removal: There are several options to control the spreading of Hydrilla Use a season long herbicide such as Pond Logic or WipeOut this method should quickly remove Hydrilla.

Appearance: has pointed, bright green leaves about 5/8 inches long, the leaves have small teeth or serrations on the edges and at the tips.

HabitatThe Hydrilla can be found in a variety of aquatic habitats such as reservoirs, lakes, ponds, springs, rivers, and tidal zones. It can tolerate a wide range of water chemistry conditions.


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