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In our shrinking global community, the spread of invasive life is changing the ecology world wide. The list of destructive non-native invaders seems to grow every day, and the damage to the environment grows along with them.

Many invasive species are high profile, the Asian Carp and Zebra Mussel being a prime example of that. But a lot of damaging invasive's are hiding in plain sight, even in your own backyard!

Take the Japanese Knotweed for example, a large bush that has lush white flowers in the fall. It looks like it belongs in a garden, and that's exactly how it snuck into the country!

Bought as an ornamental back in the 1800's, this beautiful yet deadly invader is now running wild, very effectively crowding out native plants.

Meaghan Boice-Green is Director of Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve. "What happens when you bring in a plant that takes the place of other plants that have been here for a long time, you're removing habitat for a lot of animals, you're changing potentially what food sources are available for the insect life, the animals that live here, so it can basically degrade the habitat."

One of the big problems with Japanese Knotweed is that it's so difficult to eradicate. It's like the Terminator of invasive plant species, and even cutting it down isn't nearly enough!

That's a lesson being learned at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Depew. They're fighting an outbreak of Japanese Knotweed, and it's a daunting battle, one which could take many years.

Brittany Rowan is Invasive Species Coordinator at Reinstein. "Even if you cut it, little pieces of it can establish a new colony, and since it spreads so rapidly, it can be very hard to contain."

Boice-Green adds,"It grows primarily by extending its rhyzome, which is an underground stem, and so because it reproduces that way you can remove the plant above ground, but it can continue to grow new stems from that rhyzome that lives under the ground."

And if its seeming immortality isn't frightening enough, the damage it does to the environment certainly is. A rampant population of Japanese Knotweed can turn a once thriving ecology into a one dimensional waste land in no time at all.

"More biodiversity is good for an ecosystem, lots of beneficial interactions between plants and animals and other things in the environment," says Rowan. "So when you have an invader coming into an area, it disrupts a lot of those beneficial interactions, and it definitely decreases the health of the ecosystem."

War against these invasive's is being fought on numerous sites, and with many methods. Awareness of the problem is but one of the keys to victory over this and many other invasive species.

"Invasive species control is sort of like a marathon," says Rowan. "It has to be done over several years, you have to be very consistent and very dedicated to the project. It can take a long time, but it's definitely worth it."

Boice-Green agrees,"people need to be aware of the issue of invasive species, be wary of the choices they make in terms of what plants they choose to purchase can have a big impact on what happens in their local environment."

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