Zebra mussels

Zebra mussels

The Department of Conservation says there are nearly 100 different types of invasive species Missouri has to deal with, and people can have a huge impact on whether or not these pests spread.

The Department of Conservation did a study to find out what Missourians know about these problems.

“There’s a high percentage of people that have no idea about our invasive species,” said Tim Banek, the Department’s Invasive Species Coordinator.

He says insects like the emerald ash borer and diseases like thousand cankers are serious threats to trees in the state. Campers can cause the spread.

“The insect doesn’t move very well on its own, so we know it gets transported these long distances in firewood that campers bring with them to campsites,” Banek said.

He says the solution to that is simple.

An adult Emerald Ash Borer on a penny

An adult Emerald Ash Borer on a penny

“Don’t transport your wood, leave your wood at home, get it at your destination and then burn all of it at your destination. That’s going to solve a lot of our wood boring problems if we can just get people to do that,” Banek said.

Meantime, boaters and fishermen also pose a threat to spreading things like zebra mussels, that wreak havoc on aquatic ecosystems.

“They came through the Great Lakes in the shipping industry and moved down the rivers, and now they’re being transported overland on boats and in residual water that’s left in boats from use in infested lakes,” Banek said.

Again, just a few simple steps can assure you leave these things like these mussels, or rusty crayfish, at the body of water where they found you.

“(People should) clean, inspect their boats, drain all the water out and dump their bait water on the ground, and put the unused bait in the trash,” Banek said.

Banek also says you need to wash off your lawn equipment if you’re going to be using it in another area, because that can spread weeds that obliterate plants and native species.

Banek says a little education goes a long way.

“There are some many different invasive things and so many different wood boring insects, plants and animals that are problems. It would be difficult for people to be aware of all of them, but we try to do our best to educate the public,”

For more information, follow this link.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [:62 MP3]