Mugwort, foxglove and barberry…oh my!

We continue our Young N’ Wild series with Amara Huddleston, a participant in the 2013 Career Discovery Internship Program, which is a partnership between the Service and the Student Conservation Association. Amara is working at the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex this year to help control invasive species on Long Island refuges. Check out an entry from her blog on how she’s helping native plants and animals survive. 

I’m sure not too many people know about the plant names listed on my blog title. Heck, even I didn’t until I got here! But those are names of some pretty common invasive plant species found here on Long Island. My primary job is to map and treat the many invasive plant species we find at the different refuges by pulling or cutting them. So yes, technically I am weeding!

Pulling invasive species

Invasive species like black swallow wort (left) can cause environmental harm to native plants and animals. Some invasive species grow where native plants should be growing and have the ability to affect wildlife that use the native plants for food and/or habitat.

People probably think I’m crazy for coming all the way from Detroit to Long Island to weed but invasive plants are the worst of the weeds! They can change the pH of soils, compete with native plants for habitat and many of them aren’t very insect or animal friendly. So my job is quite important for the sustainability of the ecosystem!

Invasive species aren’t only plants on land, there are aquatic ones too, like water chestnut. It floats on top of the water and once enough of them pop up, they smother the aquatic community. No plants or fish underneath it can receive sunlight or proper nutrients.

But guess who hopped in a kayak and came to the rescue?! I did!

Amara H.

Me after pulling some water chestnut.

We went out on Mill Pond, which was densely covered with the chestnut last year, to check on things and see if any plants had popped up. There were plants but not nearly as bad as it was the year before, which is great!

Follow Amara on the rest of her journey this summer!

I did my job and pulled for my life, and picked up a damselfly larvae in the process!

5 Comments on “Mugwort, foxglove and barberry…oh my!

  1. Pingback: Young N’ Wild | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

  2. If you would like to get rid of these plants and are willing to mail me some. I would be more then happy to take it off your hands.
    you have my email 🙂

  3. Amara: Your work sounds very exciting – thank you for making a difference. We live on Lake Rohunta in Orange, MA. It seems the water chestnut grows more dense every year. What tool did you use to harvest the chestnut?

    • I actually just use my hands! I twist it like spaghetti because it has a long stem and I pull gently to make sure I remove the seed as well! Hope that helps!

  4. If the water chestnut is too dense for successful hand-picking, a harvester can be used (before they drop their seeds) to clear large spaces. Here in Western New York, we had to use a harvester for a couple years in a row to clear several acres, but now it’s back to a manageable hand-picking level.

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