The Cost of Invasives

 Giant Reed ( Arundo donax ). Credit: Forest and Kim Starr, Public Domain,

Giant Reed (Arundo donax). Credit: Forest and Kim Starr, Public Domain,

      With the effects of the Zika virus still being felt in South, Central and now North America, the World Bank Group estimates that virus will cost Latin America and the Caribbean region alone $3.5 billion. And, when it comes to the environment, it's not just the spread of mosquito-born viruses that cost nations; invasive species disrupt local environments, replacing native plants and animals with non-native monocultures that bring their own host of issues. 

     One such species, a grass species, is giant reed. A contributor to the spread of wildfires, the giant reed is native to India and was originally introduced to the Americas for decorative purposes (it's a pleasing, hardy grass). However, capable of growing 30 feet tall, the giant reeds can easily survive the high-temperature wildfires they contribute to. The reed reproduces underground, and so it can quickly rebound after a wildfire, and, due to the lack of competing vegetation after these events, it can easily spread.

     For the full list of invasives, and their affects on the environment, check out this article from or click on the link available below.