Fifty years from now, I don’t want to have to tell my grandchildren what native Maine forests looked like. Yet the propagation of invasive species threatens much of Maine’s natural habitat.

Through land trusts, Maine has done a remarkable job of managing the most serious threat of all to natural areas: human development. Yet invasive species, the second biggest threat to our forests, fields and seas, have gone largely unnoticed.

Anyone who loves our state should take this threat seriously. If you doubt this, learn to identify Japanese knotweed. Then, for the next few days, observe how much knotweed you see along roadsides, at trailheads and in parks.

Notice that wherever you see knotweed, nothing else is growing. This absence of other species is called a “monoculture” and is the hallmark of invasive species, and it is as unnatural as plastic or DDT.

In addition to harming ecosystems, many invasive plants help provide habitat to ticks. In some studies, areas infested with barberry and honeysuckle have been shown to have eight times as many tick larvae per square foot as areas without these plants.

There are simple steps that you can take to ensure proper management.

 First, learn to identify the species in your yard. If you need help, contact someone at any of the many sites focusing on control, including the local Casco Bay Invasive Species Network.

 Second, if you are planting in your yard, ask your nursery professional for recommendations for native or exotic plants only.

 Third, if you are invested in this cause, reach out to experts to learn about organizing a management strategy for your neighborhood. Doing your part is far less time-consuming than mowing your lawn, and far more important in the long run.

Matthew Altieri