Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County Offers Free Invasive Species Identification Service

Stink bugs, feral pigs, giant hogweeds — here’s what you can do about invasive species in your area



Sure, they look cute... until they eat all your sweet corn. Feral pigs: effectively ruining Hudson Valley summer dinners since forever

Imagine it: You’re wrapping up a project before the rush-hour commute when you detect a faint buzzing near the corner of your cubicle. Your eyes dart in that direction — a report tacked to the wall flutters, but nothing more. You shrug it off and continue typing, until you hear what sounds like a pebble being tossed at the window. What the...? You stand, stapler in hand, and peer out the window. Nothing’s there. Suddenly, something small — and fast — zips behind your head. Panicked, you spin around to stare into the beady eyes of a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug — and it’s making a beeline right for your nose. Instinct takes over. You clap your hands in front of your face to defend yourself, effectively squishing the bug in your palms in the process. Gross, but a well-deserved victory, right? Wrong. His attack is far from over, for the stink bug has the last laugh as its pungent insides ooze out all over your hands. Noooooo!

It’s the stuff of nightmares, but it’s true: these bugs are everywhere. And they’re not the only invasive species taking over the Hudson Valley: from the emerald ash borer to feral swine to giant hogweed, foreign insects, mammals, and weeds are constantly forcing their way into our beautiful region, killing our native crops and threatening ecosystems. And since these critters have no natural enemies in our area, their populations can only grow bigger and stronger.

giant hogweed
Dangerous to the touch, giant hogweed is one of several invasive species found in Ulster County

In a press release that was distributed on April 14, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCEUC) alerts us on the importance of detecting and reporting these species before they become established, adding that “a single group of feral swine can destroy a 10-acre cornfield in less than a week.” If boars going hog-wild on your corn isn’t enough to freak you out, just think of how you’ll survive your summer dinner parties out in the backyard without this grilled sweet corn. It’s horrifying.

Fortunately, the CCEUC, in collaboration with the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP), provides a free identification service for those unsure if they’ve got an invasive species on their hands. Ulster County residents are asked to bring a suspect sample to its Education Center at 232 Plaza Road in Kingston for identification and recommendations. (The CCEUC also accepts emails. Please submit photographs of the invasive species, along with your contact information, to dm282@cornell.edu.)

Giant hogweed, as depicted in the image to the right, should not be touched; according to the Department of Evironmental Conservation, its sap can cause “severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring, and blindness.” Please call the CCEUC office at 845-340-3990 or the DEC’s giant hogweed hotline at 845-256-3111 immediately for assistance.

Think you’ve identified an invasive species in your neighborhood? Let us know about it in the comments below.

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