Invasive plants and animals pose a severe long-term threat to biodiversity and ecosystem stability as they crowd out native species. Some exotic species also pose health risks and adversely affect outdoor recreation and fisheries. Sometimes, native species become "pests" when they find food and shelter or take up residence under unnatural circumstances.


Are there invasive species on Fire Island?

The most common invasive plant species on Fire Island is the common reed, or Phragmites australis. This plant, which can grow up to 20 feet high, forms dense stands by a network of roots and rhizomes. One plant can spread more than 10 feet in a single growing season.

The Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) and the black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) are large exotic trees found on Fire Island and at the William Floyd Estate.

Fire Island's most abundant weeds include the autumn olive (Eleagnus umbellata), which is an especially prevalent shrub at the William Floyd Estate, nodding thistle (Carduus nutans) and spotted knapweed (Centaurea aculosa).

The southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) is a bark beetle native to the southeastern United States that has steadily expanded its range north and west, possibly due to climate change. Considered one of the most destructive forest pests in the United States the southern pine beetle attacks all species of pine including pitch pine, the predominant pine species of the Long Island Pine Barrens and on Fire Island.


What is integrated pest management?

The National Park Service is charged with protecting its natural resources and the people who use those resources. Managing nonnative invasive species and other pests helps protect people and natural resources.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a comprehensive approach to managing pests that seeks to minimize the use of harmful pesticides and other ecologically unsound practices. Pests are first controlled by exploiting known facts about their behavior to find and remove sources of food and shelter. Pesticides are used only if no other method will work or if a quick remedy is necessary, such as in a human health emergency. The use of low-toxicity pesticides or other non-toxic methods for managing pests results in a low-risk pest management approach.

Managing pests that may affect historic structures or cultural landscapes must be accomplished in a manner that does NOT compromise the resource, landscape or character-defining features.


The National Park Service implements a nationwide Integrated Pest Management Program to reduce risks to the public, park resources, and the environment from pests and pest-related management strategies. Learn more: NPS Integrated Pest Management Program

Last updated: February 14, 2017

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