Invasive Species in Andover


What is an Invasive Species?

Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to Andover's natural communities. Because invasive plants and animals did not evolve in our region, the natural mechanisms that normally control these species in their home ranges don't exist. As a result, non-native species can out-compete, displace, and kill native species. Furthermore, many invasives can change the quality of the soil and interfere with public works. 

Invasive Plants

More than 2,200 plants have been documented in Massachusetts, and around 725 of them are non-natives that are considered "naturalized." Of those, 69 plant species have been scientifically categorized by the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG) as "Invasive," "Likely Invasive," or "Potentially Invasive." 

The following links provide detailed information about common invasive species in Massachusetts, as well as best practices for their management and control.

What can I do about invasive plants growing on my property?

  1. Learn to identify the species in your yard
  2. Remove and dispose of them properly
  3. Replace them with native plants to support local flora and fauna

Please note that removing vegetation, including invasive species, in or near wetlands, streams, and vernal pools, is regulated by the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and the Andover Wetlands By-Law. Therefore, it may require review by the Andover Conservation Commission. Please contact the Conservation Division before removing any plant material from wetland areas. 

Additional Resources

Evaluation of Non-Native Plant Species for Invasiveness
Strategic Recommendations for Managing Invasive Plants
Definitions Related to Invasive Plants
NHESP's Invasive Plants in MA 
Use of herbicides 

Invasive Animals

Invasive animals in Massachusetts include forest pests such as the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelgis tsugae), Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), and the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). Recent reports of the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) in Fitchburg, MA have officials urging the public to keep an eye out for this pest, as it has deleterious effects on agriculture. Invasive pest sightings can be reported using the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources online reporting form. Other invasive species in the state include several species of carp, goldfish, and snakeheads. It is estimated that each year invasive species incur $120 billion in damages.

I have a pet that I no longer want to keep. Can I release it outdoors?

Please do not release any unwanted pets into the environment if you no longer wish to keep them. Many of the animal invaders in our country, such as lionfish and Burmese pythons, started out when their owner released them into the wild. Even small, innocuous pets like goldfish can have devastating effects on native wildlife. For example, goldfish can grow to the size of a football and weigh up to four pounds in the right conditions.

Please consider these alternatives when considering a new home for your pet:

  1. Help rehome your pet with someone who will care for them or surrender them to an animal shelter
  2. Donate your pet to a pet store, school or learning institution, or advertise that you will give it away for free
  3. Explore online forums dedicated to the adoption of unwanted pets

Invasive Species Alert: Asian Jumping Worms

A population of Asian jumping worms has been discovered at Bald Hill-Wood Hill Reservation. These non-native worms are distinguishable from their less-invasive counterparts, European earthworms, by their smooth glossy appearance, highly active behavior, and the loose, granular soil they create that is similar to spent coffee grounds. Asian jumping worms feed in large numbers close to the soil's surface, where they replace soil with worm castings that causes nutrients to get washed away. They produce cocoons in the fall that are nearly invisible to the naked eye. 

How can you help prevent the spread? 

After visiting any reservations in Town, clean the treads of your footwear to help prevent the spread of Asian jumping worm cocoons or the seeds of invasive plant species. 

If you would like to test your own soil for the existence of these worms, you can perform a mustard pour on a section of soil:

  1. Mix 1/3 cup of ground yellow mustard seed with 1 gallon of water
  2. Slowly pour the solution on a bare patch of soil
  3. Look for worms that move to the surface and compare their appearance to Asian jumping worms