’50 in 50′ Series: Invasive Species – Unwanted Invaders (1985)


Lower Trent Conservation is celebrating its 50th anniversary! To commemorate this milestone occasion, we have released our ’50 in 50′ historical blog series. This special series features 50 articles highlighting some of the achievements, milestones and events of the past 50 years. We hope you enjoy them!

Invasive species are among Canada’s greatest threats to the survival of our native plant and animal life. These unwanted invaders are transported, often accidentally, from other parts of the world and threaten to transform the wildlife, woodlands, and waterways on which we rely.

Trees impacted by Emerald Ash Borer Golden Beach Resort Rice Lake
Trees impacted by the Emerald Ash Borer – Golden Beach Resort, Rice Lake, ON

In the absence of natural predators, these non-native plants and animals are able to out-compete native species in their new surroundings. Over the years, many invasive species have made their presence known across the Lower Trent watershed region – dog strangling vine, garlic mustard, zebra mussels, giant hogweed, phragmites to name just a few. Due to the impact to the natural environment across the watershed region, including our Conservation Lands, Lower Trent Conservation has been involved with the monitoring and control of some of these invaders.

Dog Strangling Vine

The invasion of gypsy moth was one of the first invasive species that garnered Lower Trent Conservation’s attention. During the mid 1980s, the infestations of gypsy moth, an insect native to Europe and Asia, resulted in extensive defoliation of hardwood trees such as oak, birch, poplar, willow, and maple across the watershed. Lower Trent Conservation worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources, municipalities, and private landowners to control gypsy moth through extensive spray programs.

In the early 1990’s, Lower Trent Conservation partnered with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters on ‘Project Purple’, a campaign to increase public awareness of purple loosestrife, a plant that invaded wetlands and ditches throughout Southern Ontario. In 1994, researchers with the Biological Control Laboratory at the University of Guelph released 300 pairs of Galerucella puilla, a European beetle that feeds solely on purple loosestrife, in King’s Mill Conservation Area. At the time, an estimated 10 hectares of the 25 hectare property was infested with purple loosestrife. Follow up monitoring in 1995 and 1996 indicated a good beetle population had been established at the Conservation Area. Today purple loosestrife populations throughout our watershed region are significantly reduced.

Purple Loosestrife

In 2008, the first known population of water soldier in North America was discovered in the Trent River near the hamlet of Trent River. It is a perennial aquatic plant native to Eurasia. Prior to being regulated as a prohibited species, it was sold as an ornamental plant in water gardens, which is likely how it was introduced to the Trent River. Lower Trent Conservation is participating with an interagency working group including:  Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, US Army Engineers Research and Development Center, Trent University, and Parks Canada to monitor and control water soldier.

SeymourLake near Nappan Is-2
Water Soldier on Seymour Lake at Nappan Island (Trent River)

For the past 10 years, through a partnership with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Lower Trent Conservation has also hosted an Invading Species Hit Squad member. As part of a 20-member team working in various locations across the Province, a summer student has been hired to attend festivals and events, provide educational programs to the public, and monitor local areas for invasive species.

Wild Parsnip
Staffer Anabelle Lamothe standing next to a roadside patch of Wild Parsnip

We continue to work with our partners to be on the lookout for, and increase awareness of, invasive species in our watershed. To find out more about invasive species and what you can do to prevent the spread of these unwanted invaders, go to our website <www.ltc.on.ca/stewardship/is/> or visit Ontario Invading Species Awareness Program website at www.invadingspecies.com.

Giant Hogweed
Giant Hogweed, an invasive species

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