Glynis Board Published

Help Wipe Out These Invasive Species in W.Va.


When we talk about invasive species in West Virginia, we’re talking about everything from feral cats and hogs to gypsy moths to Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia, or VHS (a highly contagious fish pathogen). And when we talk about managing these, we’re talking about practices that effect everyone.

Invasive Species: “alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health,” according to Presidentiall Executive Order 13112 and the 2014 draft-West Virginia Invasive Species Strategic Plan.

Some examples of these species that are found in West Virginia:

Terrestrial Animals:


Credit By Eddy Van 3000 from in Flanders fields – Belgiquistan – United Tribes ov Europe (Fred + 1/2 rabbit) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

  • Feral Cats – One of the top 100 worst invasive species globally, according to Global Invasive Species Database. Kill 1 billion U.S. birds/year.
  • Feral Hogs – present in small numbers.
  • Birds: (European starling, European sparrow, Cowbirds) – pose significant threat to songbird populations.

Terrestrial Plants:

  • Multiflora rose – ornamental
  • Japanese knotweed
  • Tree-of-heaven
  • Autumn Olive
  • Kudzu – introduced for restorative purposes
  • Japanese Stiltgrass – introduced accidentally
  • Garlic Mustard – Introduced food



Credit Kelly Oten /
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid – a tiny parasitic bug that is wiping out tens of thousands of Eastern Hemlocks.

  • Gypsy Moth –  introduced in Massachusetts in 1869 for silk production
  • Emerald Ash Borer –  killed between 50 and 100 million trees in the U.S. since 2002, and
    threatens all 7.5 billion ash trees on the continent.
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid – The loss of hemlocks dramatically changes forest composition, decreases breeding habitat for birds, and exposes high elevation cold water trout streams to increased sunlight and sedimentation
  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug –  an agricultural
    pest feeds on at least 170 kinds of ornamental
    and horticultural crops



Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Little Brown Bat with White-nose syndrome.

  • Chestnut Blight –  virtually eliminated a dominant tree species throughout its range by 1940
  • White-nose Syndrome –  killed over 5.7 million bats in over 20 states in eastern North America
  • Viral hemorrhagic septicemia – VHS is a highly contagious fish pathogen that was discovered in the Great Lakes in 2002.

Aquatic Species:

  • Hydrilla – thick-growing, interferes with recreational activities
  • Yellow Iris – disrupts delicate wetlands
  • Didymo – single-celled algae that smothers brook trout breeding sites and deprives eggs of oxygen
  • Zebra Mussels – found in  Monongahela, Kanawha, Ohio, and Little Kanawha rivers
  • Rusty Crayfish – out-competes native species and reduces biodiversity
  • Silver Carp – leaps out of water and injures boaters.

Credit Tyler Baker / Tennessee Valley Authority
Tennessee Valley Authority
Tangled filaments that make up the mat formation of Didymo as seen under a microscope.

Send Feedback to:

Curtis I. Taylor, Wildlife Resources Section Chief:
Whitney Bailey:  304-637-0245