I'm very skeptical of the argument put forth by Marlene Condon in her piece Let ‘invasive’ plants do their job.

As I've witnessed in parks and forests across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, invasives don't stick to human disturbed areas but rapidly expand into "natural" areas. Invasive plants are very effective in out-competing the native plants. One key advantage of the invaders is that few to no insects eat the leaves, shoots, or roots of these exotic plants. The plants are unpalatable, if not downright toxic to native species. As she herself points out, not even deer will eat the exotics in her garden. So while they may have blooms with nectar and berries for birds (which then spread the seeds far and wide), Doug Tallamy's research shows that wide spread infestation by non-native species, i.e. invasive plants, disrupts the food chain by starving the population of insects.

Invasives may provide lots of sugar, but not the protein, fats, or even complex carbs that young birds, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and other creatures need. It is akin to the urban "food desert" we talk about where the only stores in the community are a convenience stores filled with junk food.

Slowing - and ideally rolling back - the infestation of invasives is hard work. Preventing this invaders from getting there first footholds in a landscape is the most effective strategy. Halting the spread is a critical component of preventing habitat degradation and protecting wildlife species across the spectrum from plants to insects to photogenic, iconic species that we flock to see and celebrate.

Rogard Ross

Chesapeake, VA

(1) comment

Marlene

Dear Rogard,

To quote from an article on "The Misinformation Virus",

https://aeon.co/essays/why-humans-find-it-so-hard-to-let-go-of-false-beliefs?utm_source=Aeon+Newsletter&utm_campaign=d148113b50-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_04_12_05_00&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-d148113b50-69591045

"According to Jason Reifler, professor of political science at the University of Exeter, we tend to take incoming information at face value, ‘because the existence of human society is predicated on the ability of people to interact and [on] expectations of good faith.’ Moreover, myths can take on subtle, crafty forms that feign legitimacy, making them hard to expose without careful analysis or fact checks. This means that those of us too dazed by the job of living to exert an extra mental effort can easily succumb to deception. And once a falsehood has slipped in and become encoded in memory – even weakly – it can prove remarkably sticky and resistant to correction."

By repeating mythical information about so-called invasive plants that simply has no basis in fact, you do a disservice to the environment by misleading people who innocently buy into it. Let me address the misstatements your letter.

"Doug Tallamy's research shows that wide spread infestation by non-native species, i.e. invasive plants, disrupts the food chain by starving the population of insects." This much overgeneralized statement is fallacious because Doug Tallamy is only referring to herbivorous insects, not the entire population of insects as implied by you.

"Invasives may provide lots of sugar, but not the protein, fats, or even complex carbs that young birds, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and other creatures need." This statement is nonsensical in that most herptiles don't feed on plants, and the animals that do feed on fruits (which I guess is really what you're trying to talk about here) need sugar (carbohydrates) for quick energy to fuel their cells. Sugar may be a component of human junk food, but it exists because animals need a certain quantity of it for everyday living.

Lastly, habitat degradation came BEFORE "invasive" plants. It is often the very reason people brought many of them here--to repair soil damage. In other words, if you see areas of invasive plants, it's telling you the original landscape was impacted in some manner and that is why those alien plants--known as "pioneers" in ecology--are there. Plants provide information, though most folks don't realize it.

Sincerely,

Marlene

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