Okanagan's Most UnWanted

European Paper Wasp; Dalmatian Toadflax; Partners in crime

Invasive Species- A Definition

An invasive species is when someone or something takes or removes a living organism from its natural habitat, and places it somewhere else. An example, is when the Eastern Fox Squirrel was brought over from Washington, USA. These invasive species can impact the native species and their ecosystems by killing them of, eating all their food, or plain and simple running them out.

More About The Partners In Crime Below

Dalmatian Toadflax and European Paper Wasps

The European Paper Wasp, or Polistes Dominula, and Dalmatian Toadflax, or Linaria Genistifolia are two invasive species that the government needs you to look out for. Dalmatian Toadflax is supposed to have a hangout in the Okanagan, Similkameen, Thompson, East Kootenays, and Caribou; a recent sighting of this species was on December 31st, in 1969, in Thompson-Nicola. We have no idea exactly how this species got here, but we do know that it arrived as an ornamental-bright flowers, and that made it a favourite among gardeners. Dalmatian Toadflax is native to the Mediterranean region, and was introduced to North America in the late 1800s. Crimes caused by this criminal include the following: fast growing roots allowing it to grow quickly, the ability to flower early allowing it to spread seeds quicker, and dense thickets allowing it to push over native plants and take up their space. Unfortunately, this species reproduces easily, because their small seeds are easily carried by the wind, by birds, and by animals. The government is taking all precautions to stop the spread of this invasive species. Those precautions include: minimizing the soil disturbances and preventing overgrazing, small infestations can be handled by hand-pulling, just remember to pull as much of the roots as possible. The best way to prevent this species from inhabiting your garden or yard is to reseed the area with competitive grasses.

European Paper Wasps are suspected to have hangouts all over Southern British Columbia; one recent sighting was on July 21st, 2013, in the Kootenays. This species had possibly appeared by crossing the continent from the East, or on a boat from Asia. Considering the name, we suppose we don't have to say that they originated from Europe. Crimes caused by this criminal include the following: they feed on nectar from flowers and other sugary liquids, making it a problem in fruit growing areas, they injure the fruit by biting of the skin, they are a threat to birds, and they spread bacteria, yeast, and fungi that harm fruit, causing a nuisance to workers and pickers. Unfortunately, this species reproduces easily, for the Queen mates with more than one male wasp, causing the quick reproduction. The government is taking precautions to get rid of this species. These precautions include: using chemicals, using the homemade wasp trap (juice, or a sugary liquid in a bottle cut a certain way so once the wasps are in, they can't get out). Thankfully, most of the wasps die off individually in the cold fall weather, so they aren't that hard to get rid of.

Dalmatian Toadflax: A Physical Description

The Linaria Genistifolia can be identified easily by its bright yellow, snapdragon-like flowers, which are about 25-40 mm long. This invasive plant has a stem, with some branching near the top, and is about 40-120 cm tall. Broad, pale-green, heart-shaped leaves that are about 2-6 cm long also take place on this species. When broken, the leaves and stem emits a milky juice. One single plant can hold up to 25 flowering stems. The seeds are tiny, wrinkled, brown/black, and are 1-2 mm long. They are also held in two oval capsules, which are approximately 5-7 mm long.
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European Paper Wasp: A Physical Description

The Polistes Dominula can be easily identified by its black and yellow stripes, spots, and bands on their bodies. When flying, their long, slender legs dangle below their body. Polistes Dominula have a narrow waist, with gradual construction. If you are not sure if you are seeing European Paper Wasps, and not a native wasp species, look at the nest. If the nest is shaped like an upside-down umbrella, the cells are open, facing downwards, and are not covered with a paper shell. They are also usually built in protected spots, including cavities, and especially in warm, South-facing locations.
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Fun Facts and Bibliography

Did you know:

  • Dalmatian Toadflax can withstand the low temperatures
  • Mature Dalmatian Toadflax plants can produce up to 500 000 seeds annually
Bibliography:

Paper wasp ("Trespassers will be stung")