Invasive

  • Aquatic Invertebrates

  • Media
    Two pairs of Asian clam shells, still hinged together, showing exterior and interior
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Corbicula fluminea
    Description
    The Asian clam is a nonnative, invasive species that lives in a variety of aquatic habitats. It has thick shells with distinctly ridged, concentric rings and a yellowish-brown to dark brown shell covering.
  • Media
    Two Chinese mysterysnails, out of water, resting on a white surface, with a ruler nearby for scale
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata (syn. Bellamya chinensis)
    Description
    The Chinese mysterysnail is a nonnative invasive species quickly taking over urban waters throughout the state. Never release aquarium species or aquarium water into natural aquatic habitats. Learn about and practice clean boating techniques so that you do not accidentally spread invasive aquatic species.
  • Media
    Zebra Mussel
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Dreissena polymorpha
    Description
    Zebra mussels are named for their shells, which have alternating light and dark bands. They are a highly invasive nonnative species. Learn how to prevent their spread.

  • Birds

  • Media
    Photo of Eurasian collared-dove walking on grass
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Streptopelia decaocto
    Description
    The Eurasian collared-dove was introduced in the Bahamas and has rapidly spread throughout most of the United States. At first glance, it looks like a chunky, pale gray mourning dove.
  • Media
    Photograph of a European Starling
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Sturnus vulgaris
    Description
    Few Americans love this bold nonnative bird, purposefully introduced to our continent in the late 1800s and now abundant throughout our country.

  • Butterflies and Moths

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    Image of a gypsy moth
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Lymantria dispar
    Description
    The gypsy moth, introduced to our continent from Europe, has caused millions of dollars in damages to forests. Help protect our forests by learning how to recognize the gypsy moth reporting any occurrences you find.

  • Fishes

  • Media
    Bighead carp side view photo with black background
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Hypophthalmichthys nobilis
    Description
    The bighead carp is an invasive Asian carp. It does not jump as frequently as its cousin the silver carp, but it also leaps from the water when disturbed, threatening boaters' safety.
  • Media
    Black carp side view photo with black background
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Mylopharyngodon piceus
    Description
    The black carp is a large, invasive carp from Asia. It eats mussels and snails and can damage populations of native mollusks. It is illegal to transport live black carp across state lines.
  • Media
    Common carp side view photo with black background
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Cyprinus carpio
    Description
    The common carp is a "whopper" member of the minnow family. Originally from Asia, it was actively stocked in America in the 1800s and was firmly established in Missouri by 1895.
  • Media
    Grass carp side view photo with black background
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Ctenopharyngodon idella
    Description
    Grass carp are large-bodied with a broad head and a terminal transverse mouth. The scales appear crosshatched. A native of east Asia, it is now widely distributed in the Missouri, Mississippi, and St. Francis rivers and in impoundments.
  • Media
    Silver carp side view photo with black background
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
    Description
    The silver carp is an invasive, nonnative fish. It is illegal to use it as live bait. Do not collect, transport, or dump it. It's related to the bighead carp, but its head is smaller and the eyes higher. The keel extends up to the base of the pectoral fins.
  • Media
    Northern snakehead side view illustration with black background
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Channa argus and other Channa and Parachanna spp.
    Description
    Snakeheads are native to Asia and invasive in America. They resemble bowfins and can live in similar habitats. Note the extended anal fin and the pelvic fins located close to the pectoral fins and gills.

  • Land Invertebrates

  • Media
    Asian longhorned beetle male, specimen
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Anoplophora glabripennis
    Description
    An unwanted arrival from Asia that's now living in parts of the United States, the Asian longhorned beetle could destroy millions of acres of American hardwoods. Report any sightings immediately.
  • Media
    metallic, emerald-green beetle on ash leaf
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Agrilus planipennis
    Description
    Learn to ID and report signs of the emerald ash borer: a highly destructive, invasive beetle that kills every type of ash tree — even healthy, vigorous ones.
  • Media
    Japanese beetle on a leaf
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Popillia japonica
    Description
    Despite its decorative bronze wing shields, metallic green thorax, and black-and-white striped abdomen, the Japanese beetle is a serious agricultural pest.
  • Media
    Adult spotted lanternfly resting on bark, viewed from side
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Lycorma delicatula
    Description
    The spotted lanternfly has not yet been found in Missouri, but it is present in several eastern states. It has the potential to damage our forests and food supply by feeding destructively on trees and crops.

  • Mammals

  • Media
    Image of a feral hog
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Sus scrofa
    Description
    Feral hogs could cost Missouri millions of dollars in agricultural, environmental and property damage. As they root and wallow, they plow the soil to depths of 2–8 inches — sometimes for many acres! And this is just the beginning of the trouble they can cause to humans, livestock, and the environment.
  • Media
    Nutria in wetland habitat
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Myocastor coypus
    Description
    Nutria are large aquatic rodents native to South America. They were brought to the U.S. for the fur market. In Missouri, nutria are sometimes trapped in the southeastern part of the state.

  • Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

  • Media
    Illustration of autumn olive leaves, flowers, fruit.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Elaeagnus umbellata
    Description
    Autumn olive can be found all over the state, since it was planted widely with the best of intentions. Despite its “pros,” this shrub has proven to be very invasive. It threatens native ecosystems and should not be planted.
  • Media
    Illustration of bush honeysuckle leaves, flowers, fruit.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Lonicera maackii (Amur) and Lonicera x bella (bella)
    Description
    If there’s a giant green thicket in your woods, you may have a bush honeysuckle infestation. These invasive plants are shrubby natives of Asia. In America, where they have no natural controls, they leaf out early, grow fast, spread fast, and form dense thickets that crowd out native forest plants.
  • Media
    Illustration of common buckthorn leaves and fruits.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Rhamnus cathartica
    Description
    You might see common buckthorn for sale at a nursery, but don’t buy it! At least six states have banned this invasive exotic, and the difficult-to-control plant is causing problems here in Missouri, too. Learn how to identify it — and avoid it!
  • Media
    Illustration of wintercreeper leaves, flowers, fruits.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Euonymus fortunei
    Description
    Introduced from Asia as a groundcover, wintercreeper has escaped cultivation in all the eastern states. It’s frequently found near urban centers, with heavy infestations in woodlands around St. Louis and Kansas City.
  • Media
    Callery Pear
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Pyrus calleryana
    Description
    'Bradford', a type of Callery pear, has been hugely popular in landscaping, but it can escape and hybridize with relatives. Alarmingly, it has become an invasive plant. Learn more about this problem tree.
  • Media
    Illustration of golden rain tree leaves, flowers, fruit.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Koelreuteria paniculata
    Description
    Golden rain tree is native to China, Korea, and Japan. It was cultivated in Missouri for years. Because it readily escapes from cultivation and is invasive, it is no longer recommended for planting in Missouri.
  • Media
    Photo of a heavenly bamboo, nandina, plant growing in the woods.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Nandina domestica
    Description
    Heavenly bamboo is hardly “heavenly” when it comes to its negative effects on our native plants and animals. A tremendously popular landscaping plant, it readily escapes and is difficult to eradicate.
  • Media
    Illustration of Japanese honeysuckle leaves, flowers, fruits.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Lonicera japonica
    Description
    Don’t kid yourself about this invasive, exotic vine: Japanese honeysuckle is an aggressive colonizer that shades out native plants and harms natural communities. Learn how to recognize it!
  • Media
    Illustration of mimosa leaves, flowers, fruit.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Albizia julibrissin
    Description
    Grown as an ornamental for its attractive pink flower clusters, gracefully spreading branches, and delicate leaves, mimosa is easily propagated and grows rapidly. Unfortunately, it is also an invasive exotic in much of the state.
  • Media
    Illustration of multiflora rose, leaves, flowers, fruits.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Rosa multiflora
    Description
    Starting more than a century ago, this nonnative rose was planted across America — for many good reasons — but multiflora rose has proven to be invasive, and now the goal is to stop its spread.
  • Media
    Illustration of Russian olive leaves, flowers, fruits, twigs, thorns.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Elaeagnus angustifolia
    Description
    Russian olive is a small tree with distinctive silvery leaves. It was introduced to America in the late 1800s and widely planted as an ornamental and windbreak. But in many states it has proven to be invasive. It is not recommended here in Missouri.
  • Media
    Illustration of tree-of-heaven leaves, flowers, fruit
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Ailanthus altissima
    Description
    Tree-of-heaven is a fast-growing exotic that is common in urban areas. It is weedy and aggressive and should not be planted. It has 2-foot-long feather-compound leaves. Twigs smell unpleasant when you break them.

  • Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

  • Media
    Photo of beefsteak plant showing upper leaves and flower cluster
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Perilla frutescens
    Description
    Introduced as an ornamental, beefsteak plant is native to Asia. It is common in moist or dry wooded bottomlands, open valley pastures, and along trails, railroads, and roadsides. It spreads invasively in our state.
  • Media
    Photo of Canada thistle flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Cirsium arvense
    Description
    Canada thistle is a native to Eurasia and arrived on our continent probably before the Revolutionary War — most likely mixed in agricultural seed. A bad weed of crop fields and rangeland farther north, it causes problems in Missouri, too.
  • Media
    Photo of crown vetch, closeup of a flower cluster.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Securigera varia (formerly Coronilla varia)
    Description
    In summer, you’re almost guaranteed to see big colonies of crown vetch along Missouri's highways. This weedy nonnative plant stabilizes the dirt after road construction but degrades our natural ecosystems.
  • Media
    Photo of garlic mustard plant with flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Alliaria petiolata
    Description
    Because each plant disperses a large number of seeds, garlic mustard can outcompete native vegetation for light, moisture, nutrients, soil, and space as it quickly colonizes an area.
  • Media
    Photo of a huge mass of kudzu vines covering trees and ground
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Pueraria montana
    Description
    Of the many invasive exotic plants that were originally introduced to stop soil erosion and improve soils, kudzu is one of the worst. This “vine that ate the South” is often the first plant that comes to mind when we think of “invasive exotics.”
  • Media
    Photo of leafy spurge seed heads
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Euphorbia esula
    Description
    When you consider the negative effects this plant has on natural habitats, and how hard it is to control or eradicate, you almost want to rename it “leafy scourge”! This invasive plant is spreading in our state. Learn how to identify it.
  • Media
    Photo of a musk thistle blooming flower head.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Carduus nutans
    Description
    An invasive native of Eurasia that is spreading in Missouri, musk thistle is a plant you should know. Learn how to tell the difference between our native thistles and these bad guys.
  • Media
    Photo of large group of sericea lespedeza plants
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Lespedeza cuneata
    Description
    Decades ago, sericea lespedeza was introduced in hopes it would provide hay, improve pastures, stop soil erosion, and supply food and cover for wildlife. Unfortunately, it has proven to be an aggressive, invasive weed that is extremely difficult to control, escapes cultivation, and outcompetes native plants.
  • Media
    spotted knapweed
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Centaurea stoebe
    Description
    Spotted knapweed is an invasive plant that outcompetes native communities, takes over pastureland, and even beats back invasive sericea lespedeza! It has arrived in our state. Let’s prevent its spread.
  • Media
    Caucasian bluestem seed head
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Bothriochloa bladhii
    Description
    Causasian bluestem and the closely related yellow bluestem are both aggressive, weedy degraders of pasturelands that escape cultivation and endanger native habitats. Learn more about these Old World grasses, and please don’t plant them!
  • Media
    Photo of Chinese yam showing leaves and bulbils
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Dioscorea oppositifolia (sometimes called D. batatas)
    Description
    Similar to kudzu, Chinese yam is an aggressive vine that overtakes nearly everything within reach that stands still long enough! Learn more about this invasive plant — and please don’t plant it!
  • Media
    Photo of common reed plants in large colony
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Phragmites australis australis
    Description
    Common reed is both native and exotic, but it’s the exotic subspecies that has become an invasive problem. Taking over wetlands with its dense stands, it changes the plant and animal communities and even the way the water flows.
  • Media
    Photo of a clump of hydrilla held in a hand
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Hydrilla verticillata
    Description
    Hydrilla is probably the worst submersed aquatic weed in America. It harms aquatic communities in small ponds, lakes, and rivers. It hurts our economy by hindering fishing and other recreational uses in large reservoirs. Learn about it and prevent its spread.
  • Media
    Photo of Indian strawberry plant with flower
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Duchesnea indica (syn. Potentilla indica)
    Description
    Indian strawberry is a weedy plant that looks a lot like strawberry, except its petals are yellow, and its small, strawberry-like fruits lack juiciness and flavor.
  • Media
    Photo of Japanese knotweed
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Fallopia japonica
    Description
    One of the worst invasive species in the world, this plant can thrive in many places and can even damage foundations of buildings—not to mention the harm it causes in natural habitats. Learn to “know thine enemy,” so you can prevent its spread.
  • Media
    Photo of Japanese stiltgrass
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Microstegium vimineum
    Description
    Japanese stiltgrass is an invasive annual grass with thin, pale green, lance-shaped leaves that are 3 inches long. It has spread to nearly every eastern U.S. state. It forms dense patches, displacing and outcompeting native species for nutrients and light.
  • Media
    Photo of Johnson grass flower clusters
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Sorghum halepense
    Description
    Johnson grass is a native of the Mediterranean that is invasive in our country. It’s a weed that infests cropland and degrades native ecosystems, and heavy infestations are found in all the major river bottoms of Missouri.
  • Media
    Photo of purple loosestrife flowering stalks showing purple flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Lythrum salicaria
    Description
    Anyone who’s seen what purple loosestrife has done to New England and the Northeast can tell you how invasive this plant is. Learn how to identify it, so you can report any findings to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
  • Media
    Photo of several reed canary grass plants with flowering heads
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Phalaris arundinacea
    Description
    Reed canary grass is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and it varies quite a bit. Our native Missouri version, for instance, is quite different from the Eurasian type that has been widely introduced — and which has proven to be highly invasive.
  • Media
    Photo of tall fescue plants
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Festuca arundinacea
    Description
    You’ve seen it a million times, now learn to identify it! Technically an exotic invasive plant, tall fescue is practically everywhere, from lawns to levees, and from pastures to (unfortunately!) prairies.