Once you know what species to watch for, the next step is to look for them. Every time you are outdoors, take a few minutes to scan the area and look for signs of potential invasive species.
Like a criminal investigator, you will be more successful spotting invasives in the field if you can "get inside the mind" of your suspects. For invasive plants, that means understanding when certain likely invaders emerge in the spring, when they flower and fruit, and when they lose their leaves in the fall. Knowing that certain types of invaders only reside in certain areas will make the task less overwhelming. Learn key habitats for particular invasive species. Some invaders only like shade. Others like the sun. Others only exist in forests, or prairies, or wetlands. What key characteristics makes that plant stand out from the rest of the vegetation? For invasive animals and insects, what kind of damage or evidence do they often leave behind?
Here are a few tips on where to look:
- Think pathways. Most invasive species spread along particular pathways such as along roads and trails, at trail heads, and other introduction points. Walk the boundaries of your property, as these new invaders can be creeping in from neighboring lands. Birds and wind also help spread invasive species, so it is possible to find many of these species in the interior of your land. Always keep an eye out for new invaders.
- Think habitat. Which species to be looking for depends on the habitat they invade. Look for aquatic plant species in ditches, lakes, streams, and wetlands; look for terrestrial plant invaders along roadsides, in prairies, and fields; and look for riparian invaders along the edges of rivers, ponds, and even in roadside ditches.
- Think distribution. Early detection means finding species that are still not abundant in a certain area so there is still a possibility or eradication or containment. Many invasive species, such as English Ivy, are already well established in Oregon and are not candidates for early detection and control. As you become more familiar with your environment and the species you'll get better at recognizing the native and established invasives in an area and noticing new species that seem out of place.