Control Methods

Invasive species are carried to new habitats, either in or on machinery or organisms, and are usually transported by humans, so prevention is the most cost-effective method of control. Once an invasive species has entered an area, plant quarantine is an effective first line of defense. For example, living plants and animals brought into the United States must pass inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to ensure that they are not carrying

Scotch Broom Care
Most plant species invading the United States originated in Asia or Europe, such as this Scotch broom. In Oregon and Washington, complete Douglas fir plantation failures have been attributed to Scotch broom.

potentially invasive species. Particular care is taken to ensure that imports from known areas of infestation are clean of seeds, spores, or propagules.

The next most effective strategy is detection and control of small infestations. When there is a known threat of invasion, the affected area should be surveyed periodically and individual plants removed by hand or, in extreme cases, by "spot-spraying" herbicide. Eradication is possible when the infestation is small.

Once an invasive species becomes established, the only means of management are expensive chemical or biological controls which, at best, will only minimize damage. A variety of chemicals may be used to kill invasive plants. Most chemicals, however, affect a broad spectrum of plants, including native species. Biological controls, including natural enemies from the invasive plant's native ecosystem, can be more specific but may also be ca pable of displacing native species and becoming "invaders."

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