There’s a battle being waged against alien invaders that are trying to overrun the outdoors. Alien invaders aren’t just from outer space, some come from across state lines. These invaders, often called invasives, include fast-growing, pesky plants and animals that push out Missouri’s plants, fish, and wildlife. When these invaders move in, they can ruin the water, food, and shelter that Missouri’s animals need to thrive. Your mission is to battle these alien invaders. But beware — it won’t be easy. As you encounter each alien invader, we’ll radio you your mission.
Emerald ash borers are tiny, shiny green beetles that are invading Missouri’s forests. These little invaders kill every type of ash tree — even healthy ones.
Your Mission: Don’t move firewood around the state — that’s how these pesky little insects spread. Buy firewood where you camp. Slowing the spread of emerald ash borers is as easy as that.
Secondary mission, if you choose to accept it: Help mission control keep an eye out for ash trees that might already be infested. Look for little D-shaped holes in the bark and dead or dying branches near the top.
Bush honeysuckle thickets are taking over Missouri’s woods. This invader greens up before native shrubs and trees and blocks sunlight from anything else that’s trying to grow. Birds carry off loads of the honeysuckle berries, which infest other areas. '
Your Mission: The best time to start killing bush honeysuckle is today. Try to catch new bushes before they start producing seeds. Pull young plants in the spring. Their early green leaves make them easy to spot. Replace them with native honeysuckle varieties that feed wildlife and keep forests healthy.
Watch out! On Missouri’s big rivers, the water behind your boat can explode with jumping fish. Asian carp have been known to jump into canoes, clobber people, and cause all sorts of mayhem. These alien invaders spell trouble for Missouri’s waterways because they multiply fast and gobble up all the food that paddlefish and other big river fish rely on.
Your Mission: Chop ’em up or eat ’em. Asian carp make great cut bait for fishing for big blue catfish. If an Asian carp flops in your boat, give it a one-way ticket to your kitchen table. They are good eating!
Didymo is nasty! This glop, also called rock snot, is as bad as it sounds. It can make clear streams look like they’re covered in soggy toilet paper. This algae forms thick mats that smother fish eggs and make it harder for fish to feed. Rock snot also makes it impossible to cast a line. For now, we’ve kept this invader blocked off at the Arkansas border. Don’t let the Show-Me State be next.
Your Mission: Use wader-washing stations at trout parks to keep your fishing gear spick-and-span. At home, clean, drain, and dry your fishing gear and scrub off any snot, er … algae.
Zebra mussels are lurking underwater at one of your favorite fishing holes, shouldering out Missouri’s native mussels. Hundreds of thousands slowly swarm our lakes in places we can’t see, but their impact on fishing and boating is huge. These invaders snarf up vital food supplies and spread quickly.
Your Mission: Don’t move a mussel. Inspect, clean, drain, and dry your boat and fishing gear every time you move it to another waterway. Power-wash your boat with hot water, drain livewells, and pull your boat plugs to slow the spread of zebra mussels. Give these hitchhikers the boot!
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill