I was startled this evening when I opened my laptop to discover a western cedar seed bug moving feebly. In the fall, these guys come out of the woodwork, literally, at our headquarters and I failed to notice this one walking across my laptop when I shut down for the night.
It reminded me of how easy it is to transport invasive species such as bedbugs in luggage, seeds and diseases in the soles of shoes, or inadvertently purchasing an invasive species at the local nursery.
The last is one that we have the most control over, and we encourage everyone to look over their state invasive species lists before purchasing plants or seeds. Unfortunately you cannot assume that nurseries are selling “safe” plants. As an example, I did a quick Google search to confirm that purple loosestrife seeds can still be ordered via the internet, although it cannot legally be sold in Colorado, Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska. Purple loosestrife, or Lythrum salicaria, can now be found invading natural areas in every state except Florida and outcompeting native species, according to the Plant Conservation Alliance.
State invasive species lists are available from Audubon International. If you would like a copy, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Googling “invasive species” and your state or province will yield good resources. Also, if you are ordering online, if there are restrictions preventing the sale of the plant in any state, like I found for purple loosestrife, consider that as a good indication that it should be avoided.