We prefer talking about native plants on this blog, but we squirrels are well aware that many plants out there are not native. These plants and animals are called ‘invasives,’ and they don’t operate in their own special world. They affect other, native plants and animals in our habitat in many ways, like competing for space, or homes, or eating all the food up, or killing our native animals.
This year, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, is from May 16-23. We squirrels just noticed this, because we saw it on another nature blog from our area. They are probably prepared and going to feature many more plants and animals, so you might want to leap on over to Capital Naturalist’s blogspot. This is their 2018 post from when they first posted for invasive week. We can’t seem to find a ‘home page’ on Blogspot, but that’s us squirrels for you!
Here on The Squirrel Nutwork, we do have a few invasive photos on hand, and we’ll post a few plants that you humans might plant on purpose. They may not have been considered invasive years ago, but now they are.
Let’s start with Periwinkle, Vinca major and Vinca minor.
This vining plant, also known as creeping myrtle, is named for it’s blue flower–which unfortunately, we don’t have a photo of! But our tech-savvy human readers can search for it. Or likely you already know what it looks like!
Periwinkle is often sold as a plant that fills in over mulch or provides a nice ground cover. Wherever a tip of the plant touches the ground, it can root. The root will then send up a new shoot, and thus the plant spreads.
Really spreads. It doesn’t observe social distance, er, boundaries with other plants. Periwinkle will go right through them.
Yes, the flower is pretty, but nothing in North America pollinates it. Nothing eats periwinkle. Not even deer. We hate to admit it, because that alone will probably encourage some of you humans to go buy some. But by planting periwinkle, you are making your yard a desert for bees and other insects that need habitat.
This makes us sad. Didn’t we tell you that we preferred to talk about native plants?
We squirrels and other animals need your help to keep invasive plants from pushing us out. Keep watch for invasives and help out the plants and animals in your neighborhood by removing them. Or not planting them in the first place!