Gypsy moth. Emerald ash borer. Zebra mussel.
Those are a few of the invasive species most Michiganders know by name. But there are many more, such as the chestnut gall wasp, spotted lanternfly and mute swan.
Invasive plants are especially a problem. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, damage caused by invasive tree and plant pests, coupled with the cost of control and eradication efforts, can reach $40 billion annually.
Rob Miller, invasive species specialist with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said damaging flora and fauna typically get help on their journeys to Michigan.
“Most pests don’t make it very far on their own,” Miller said. “Some non-native, exotic pests made it to the United States on goods and materials from other countries, or even on the ships, planes and trains that transport them. Once here, plant pests can be unintentionally moved to new areas by hitching rides on outdoor gear, vehicles and untreated firewood.”
One weed found late last year in Calhoun County is mile-a-minute weed, an aggressive annual that threatens to smother trees in orchards and Christmas tree farms. It can grow 25 feet in six to eight weeks, according to MDARD.
Diana Bennett, whose family operates the Red Barn Tree Farm in Beaverton, said she has not heard of any damage caused by mile-a-minute weed in Michigan.
“I haven’t heard of that from any of our fellow growers, and we talk back and forth on social media about what they’re dealing with,” she said. “But I will definitely check in with them just in case we end up having an issue.”