What is an Invasive Species?
An invasive species is a plant, insect or animal that causes
damage to the environment, economy or human health in a new region where it is
not native. They outcompete native plants for space, food, or other resources.
Invasive plant species can be difficult control due to their natural
aggressiveness, high rate of reproduction, and lack of natural predators in the
These three invasive species, threatening the Town of Aurora are regulated as a restricted species under the Ontario Invasive Species Act, 2015.
EUROPEAN COMMON REED (Phragmites australis subsp. Australis)
Photo: Pond on Leslie Street is being encircled by invasive phragmites.
Photo: This open space at Bayview and Wellington has been overwhelmed by invasive phragmites.
ORIGIN: Plant is native to Eurasia; first introduced into North America in the late 1800s.
IMPACTS: Phragmites tends to become the dominant species in a variety of habitats, due to its dense growth both above and below ground and its ability to release toxins from its roots into the soil to hinder the growth of and kill surrounding plants.
JAPANESE KNOTWEED (Fallopia japonica)
Photo: A large outbreak of Japanese knotweed at Bloomington and Bathurst.
IMPACTS: Commonly invades disturbed areas with high light, such as roadsides and stream banks. Reproduction occurs both vegetative (rhizomes) and seeds, making this plant extremely hard to eradicate.
DOG-STRANGLING VINE (Cynanchum rossicum)
Photo: Climbing up
a fence on Industrial Parkway South, these well-seeded vines are just a small
part of a substantial outbreak north of the Sheppard's Bush soccer fields.
IMPACTS: Forms dense stands that overwhelm and crowd out native plants and young trees, preventing forest regeneration. This is a serious concern for the conifer plantations in the York Regional Forest. Leaves and roots may be toxic to livestock. Deer avoid dog strangling vine, which can increase grazing pressure on more palatable native plants. Threats to monarch butterfly populations; butterflies lay their eggs on the plant but, the larvae are unable to successfully complete their life cycle.
EMERALD ASH BORER
Ash Borer, is an invasive insect that kills all types of healthy ash trees.
It is a major threat to the health of our Regions forests.
EUROPEAN FIRE ANTS
The European fire ant (Myrmica rubra Linnaeus), is an invasive, non-native species that is a nuisance pest for people and potential threat to native species. Over the past 10 years, they have been found in residential and natural areas in the Greater Toronto Area. They nest in damp soils around tree roots and under rocks, logs and rotting debris. These ants sting humans, pets and wildlife to defend their nest.
There are no known effective, long-term control methods available for parkland. Known treatments will kill beneficial insects too, which can negatively affect wildlife and the natural food chain.
When travelling through Aurora parklands, you're advised to:
- Stay on designated pathways and trails.
- Always wear covered footwear and long pants to protect yourself from ant stings and other hazards - different insect bites or poison ivy.
- Keep dogs leashed and on the designated trail.
Keep your property clean to avoid a potential European fire ant habitat:
- Disposing of yard waste properly. Do not dump yard waste into natural areas.
- Keep the area immediately adjacent to your property clear of accumulated branches or decaying vegetation.
- Mowing tall grass and trimming hedge
- Avoid transporting materials (soil, mulch, plants, and decaying logs) unless you are certain that it is free of fire ants.
If you discover an infestation of European fire ants on your property, treat the colonies quickly to reduce their opportunity to expand into neighbouring areas.
Try using boric acid bait traps, diatomaceous earth, or pyrethrin (these products can be purchased from local nurseries and hardware stores and should be applied according to product instructions) or contact a pest control company.
The following Noxious Weeds are found in Aurora and cause harm to humans:
Poison Ivy, a harmful weed that produces clusters of three leaves, it can be found along trails and wooded areas. When the sap from this plant comes in contact with the skin, it produces blisters and irritation.
Wild Parsnip, often found in ditches, trails, and residential properties. When the sap from this plant comes in contact with human skin then is exposed to sunlight it causes severe burns and blisters.
Giant Hogweed, found alongside roads, streams and in open spaces. The sap from this plant can cause severe blisters, burns, and scars. The effects of this plant are further intensified when exposed to sunlight. Eye contact may cause loss of vision.
What can you do to stop invasive species?
- Learn to identify these species
- Use designated trails and keep pets on a leash to avoid accidentally spreading of these invaders
- Learn to effectively and environmentally manage these invasive species on your private property
- Buy native species to plant in gardens and landscaping
- Clean all equipment thoroughly to remove seeds, leaves and mud
- Encourage people to report any illegal importing, distribution or sale of Dog-strangling vine and Japanese Knotweed
For more information on how to deal with invasive species please visit Ontario's Invading Species Awareness Program Website.