OKANAGAN'S MOST UNWANTED

Invasive Species Are Terrorizing Our Ecosystems!

What Is An Invasive Species?

Invasive species are organisms that weren't originally in the ecosystems they currently live in. Either they invaded on their own by moving from their birthplace to another, or (more likely) humans brought them in. There are many reasons why people would want them, whether for pets if it's an animal, or decorations if it's a plant. What many don't realize though, is that if your 'pet' manages to escape or when your plant starts to spread, which will happen, it alters the ecosystem it's in. This may kill native animals and greenery, force them out of their habitat, or, eventually, cause a species to go extinct. That's why it's so important to keep species where they originated, so none become extinct and disease isn't spread among native ones from an invasive one.

Himalayan Blackberry- An Invasive From Overseas

A Blackberry from the Himalayas?

Rubus armeniacus, the Himalayan Blackberry, is actually from Europe. The culprit took one of these plants along when he immigrated to America. The man loved the plentiful amounts of fruit the bush produced, and that's still a problem in eliminating this invasive plant. The Himalayan Blackberry arrived on our continent in 1885, and had made its way up the rim of the Pacific when 1945 hit. Today, it's an labelled as 'urgent' on the Royal BC Museum website.

What do they look like?

The Himalayan Blackberry 's stems heighten to about three meters in height, twelve meters lengthwise, and blanketed in barely bent thorns. They are sturdy and firm, and branch into five different directions. Also, the stems hold big, compressed, and curved or linear bristles.

This plant always has green leaves that are usually big, circular, or oval.. Spiked leaflets sprout out the tip of their stems.

The flowers of the Himalayan Blackberry are little at 2.5 cm across and are white or a pink kind of colour. Their individual stems are furry and pokey.

Finally, the fruit this plant produces is called drupelets. They can be a maximum of 2 cm across with an oval or circular shape. Glossy black is their colour and these berries don't grow hair.

Where Can I Find Them and What Do They Do?

The Himalayan Blackberry hangs out on the Pacific coast, and in the West Kootenays, Fraser Valley, and Lower Mainland. More specifically, around waterways and disrupted areas like roadways and ditches. There was some reported sightings, one near the border, a little while from Vancouver, but it wasn't said when. The rest are from 2011, which isn't exactly a recent sighting. Don't doubt them, though. Even if no one has reported it, the Himalayan Blackberry is still here. These invasives have damaging effects on nature and the economy. They move faster then other plants that are native, and take up more space. This bush likes rivers and causes unnecessary erosion or flooding because they take out sturdy vegetation. And growing to a maximum of three feet, this plant has thickets that are almost impossible to get through. They can easily block routes to water or land.
The Himalayan Blackberry is able to spread easily because one of their berries could have an upwards of eighty seeds. Humans, rivers, and birds move these seeds, making it quick and efficient for the weeds to grow. Pieces of the stem or seedlings can move and grow elsewhere as well. The toughest thing, though, is that many humans love the berries, therefore they want easier ways to get them. So their garden soon has a new addition, the invasive and notorious Himalayan Blackberry.

Okay, So What Can I Do To Help?

Some ways to help control the spread of the Himalayan Blackberry include mowing many times over many years to wear out their roots, pulling them out yourself and using herbicides or making sure to get all of the plant. Himalayan Blackberry plants that are already uprooted should be properly burned or concealed underground in a dump within a bag.
Invasion of Place - Himalayan Blackberry

Interesting Facts

  • Himalayan Blackberry bushes are so thick that plants with constant need for sun can't survive if one grows near them.
  • Some other locations of the bush include ditches, disrupted ground, roadways, riparian zones, forest outlines, and ravines with trees.
  • They're used for dye.
  • You cannot bring in Himalayan Blackberries from other places unless you obtain a permit.

Red-Eared Slider Turtle- This Turtle Is NOT Cute (As Much As It May Seem So)

Wait, This Turtle Is Invasive?

That is a definite yes. Many people own Red-Eared Slider Turtles, but have no idea of the damage they cause if their pet's escape plan works. This slider became popular at the beginning of the 20th century. They were sold at markets and shops, then people started breeding them in the years of 1950. Lots ended up as dinner for Asians, and quite a few others were sold as pets. British Columbia became a turtle-selling province in the beginning of the 1960's. Once the turtles escaped or were released, though, they started another turtle family that led to another and another and you get the idea. They've now evolved into a threat instead of a pet.

What Should I Look For?

Trachemys scripta, the Red-Eared Slider Turtle, has a reddish mark that is close to where an would be, elderly ones can look dark brown. Their maximum length is twenty-eight centimeters, and they have a fluorescent yellow belly that has many brown-black spots. Lines of yellow streak down the legs and neck of the turtle, and the brownish-blackish shell is smooth and usually has lines and swirls. Also, sections of it may be white, yellow, and red. Male turtles have large, hooked claws for impressing females in courtship. Their lifespan usually amounts to somewhere around 20-40 years.

Where Are They And What Damage Do They Cause?

These reptiles live in Kelowna, Vancouver, Peachland, Penticton, and Naramata. There are five sightings in the Vancouver areas, but none in the Okanagan. Usually you can see them in ponds, rivers, creeks, and on logs and rocks sun-bathing. These turtles can occasionally bring diseases from living in unclean environments if they were raised as pets in a pet store. This is because tropical species can come in contact with Red-Eared Sliders while in the shop. When the turtles are set free, the sickness hits local species who can't protect themselves against it. They fight with local turtles for breeding spots, sunning spots, and meals and spread with ease because females lay 4-23 eggs in a single nest. Plus, they produce an upwards of four times annually. So with a lifespan of 20 to 40 years, these turtles can breed quite a few times.

How You Can Help

  • People are asked to report if they see slider turtles.
  • They are also asked not to buy slider turtles as this would probably end up in more invasive species in ponds and more damage to the environment.
  • Using nets in rivers and creeks to capture these invasives has proved necessary.
Red Eared Slider Turtle Eating Wild Caterpillars.

Interesting Facts

  • It's full size is equal to a dinner plate.
  • They are eaten by minks, otters, raccoons, skunks, snakes, bigger turtles, and water birds.
  • New baby turtles are usually one inch across.
  • Sliders can bite.
  • Small turtles eat mostly meat. As they age, sliders eat less and less meat.