invasive species in maryland

What kind of invasive species are in Maryland?

Non-native diseases and pests all around the world are introduced to Maryland every day. Invasive species and invasive plants have the ability to outgrow native species, resulting to threatening effects to the ecosystems, as well as natural resources. Though not all invasive species of insects and invasive plants are a threat, it pays off to have knowledge on which type can cause massive damage. Here are some of invasive species that you will find in Maryland.

What are some invasive species in Maryland?

Blue Catfish 

Blue catfish is a huge, smooth-skinned fish that has a whisker-like barbells all over its mouth and bluish gray body. They are considered as invasive species since they have bigger appetite and fast reproduction rates compared to shellfish and native fish species. They can cause a strain on the natural resources and upsets the balance of ecosystem in the area.

They typically feed on blue crab, shad, river herring, and menhaden. Blue catfish can grow as much as 100 pounds and can live for approximately 20 years. They make up about 75% of the fish biomass in Chesapeake Bay.

Mute Swans

Mute Swans are huge, aggressive birds that can consume as much as 20 pounds of sunken aquatic vegetation on a regular basis.  Due to this, they are considered as threat to essential native aquatic plants in Maryland and the area’s natural resources in general.

When they are brooding or nesting, mute swans are considered as one of the most aggressive breed of waterfowl bird in the whole world. They are notorious for chasing, injuring, and even killing other native waterfowl species.

Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels is a small bivalves that have a triangular shell with zebra-like stripes, hence its name. It generally lives in bodies of water such was rivers, lakes, and reservoirs in areas if Chesapeake Bay watershed. It was first introduced to the Great Lakes region and instantly spread in different parts of United States, including Maryland. When zebra mussels attach themselves to hard surfaces, they can instantly create millions of offspring. They are considered as threat to the populations of native fish, bivalves, mussel, clams, and oysters in Maryland.  


Nutria is a big, brown, and semi-aquatic rodent that somehow resembles beavers. They reside in wetlands, marshes, and some areas of the Bay watershed and can reproduce three litters of four offspring every year that quickly spread. In Maryland, these invasive rodents are the biggest threat to salt marsh habitat since they feed on sediment holding native plants, which can result to serious erosion. 

According to the Maryland department, their rapid reproduction is a threat to natural resources and other animals. They can also cause damage to crops and agriculture.


Phragmites are known for being a perennial plant that has feathery flumes at the peak of its tall, firm stalks. It mainly thrives along shores, roadsides, and wetlands in Bay watershed. The reason why Phragmites is considered as a huge threat to native plant species and agriculture in Maryland is because it outgrows them by producing tall, sturdy stands in many wetland habitats.

Purple Loosestrife. 

Purple loosestrife is another invasive perennial plant species that has spikes and vibrant purple flowers that develop during mid to late summer. Though this plant has aesthetic and healing properties, don’t be fooled because it is a serious threat to native plant species and agriculture. This invasive breed of plant creates as much as 2 million seeds each year and they have zero identified natural predators. 

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald ash borer is a shiny beetle with green body and it resides in ash trees, which is where its name was coined. It is found in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania which originated from Asia. Mature emerald ash borer doesn’t impose greater damage to ash trees but it was the larvae that eats the inner bark, impeding the dispersion of nutrients and water all throughout the tree. 

Chinese Mitten Crab 

Chinese Mitten Crab is a crustacean with light brown body and distinguishable pair of shaggy, white-tipped claws. It is one of the worst kinds of invasive creatures. It does not only vie with native species for food, it also endangers the populations via predation and destroys fishing industries by eating the fish caught on nets and destroying nets and other fishing tools. Chinese mitten crab also erode fragile sediment banks, coastal protection system, and dykes caused by their extreme burrowing. 

Veined Rapa Whelk

The veined rapa whelk is identified as a huge, predatory marine snail. It is an extremely dangerous invasive species to the Bay since it preys on many native bivalve such as mussels, oysters, and clams, which are very important to the ecosystem and economy in Maryland.

European Gypsy Moth. 

European gypsy moth is known as one of the most threatening invasive species in Maryland. Moth larvae feed on leaves of trees and shrubs, leaving them bare and defenseless against destruction and disease caused by other pests. 

Is Bamboo an invasive species in Maryland?

Bamboos typically grow in temperate to tropical regions in different parts of the world. They are also notorious for being the biggest constituent of the grass family. In fact, there are over 1, 200 species of bamboo all throughout the world. One species that originated in Maryland is the switch cane or Arundinaria gigantea spp. tecta. Since it is a running bamboo, it is not highly-suggested to plant it. If you want to achieve the same ornamental impact it gives, look for other alternatives such as shrubs and trees. This is because running bamboos grow vegetatively via underground rhizomes and it is hard to control it by mowing or other mechanical tools. 

What are some invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay?

There are a lot of invasive species found in Chesapeake Bay. The front runners are blue catfish and Phragmites. The blue catfish contributes as much as 75% of fish biomass in the Bay and feed on the majority of native aquatic animals. On another note, Phragmites threatens the native plant species in the Bay by its strong and thick plant structure. These two invasive species disrupts the balance of the ecosystem in Chesapeake Bay, which is why they are considered as huge threats.

What is an invasive species that threatens the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland?

Chesapeake Bay in Maryland is packed with many invasive species that destroys the balance in its ecosystem and outgrow populations of its native plants and species. Natural resources can be threatened as well and this is why it is closely monitored by the Maryland Invasive Species Council.

The veined rapa whelk is a predatory marine snail that threatens Chesapeake Bay. It is a very dangerous species that feeds on bivalve like clams, oysters, and mussels, Due to its extreme population and feeding habit, these bivalves dramatically decrease, causing damage to the fishing industry and economy in Maryland.

According to Maryland department, specifically the Maryland Invasive Species Council, the public should practice growing native plants such as shrubs, flowers, and trees in your garden. They should also thoroughly clean boat hulls before travelling to another body of water to protect the waters from invasive aquatic species. Moreover, keep aquarium species and bait away from waterways and storm drains to help invasive plants from getting into agriculture and food supplies.

Generally speaking, invasive species are the animals and plants that are introduced – on purpose or accidentally – to their present habitat. These species can threaten their new habitat when they present themselves as superior over native species of animals and plants, taking away most of their habitat and food.

The Maryland Department says if several invasive species removal operations have been successful, once introduced, populations of these invasive species are hard to eliminate.  These invasive plants can affect natural resources, cause damage to agriculture and crops. In some instances, they can also trigger disease which can affect the public.

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