While the Invaders of Texas program focuses on gathering data about invasive plant species, it does have information on invasive animals, insects and pathogens on TexasInvasives.org too. I'm sure most readers are well aware of how problematic the insect invader, imported fire ants, has turned out to be. They have caused the decline of the beloved horned lizard, inflicted painful bites and been a financial drain. According to Texas A&M AgriLife, "the impact of red imported fire ants in the state of Texas is estimated to be $1.2 billion annually". Plant invaders can wreak just as much havoc on the economy and the environment.
Scientists are striving to understand the range of different invasive plants in order to try to develop a plan to deal with them. Texas is a large state and many more eyes and "boots on the ground" than there are scientists involved with this work are required. This is where you can help. Become a trained citizen scientist for the Invaders of Texas program. This can be done online or at an in person workshop. If you are interested and in the DFW area, one such workshop is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at the River Legacy Living Science Center in Arlington. If you complete the training, you will have the tools to be a part of this important research.
If you don't live in Texas, your area most likely deals with its own set of invaders too. You can find some links to programs outside of TX on the Texas Invasives' website. Even if you don't currently have the time for the citizen scientist project, you can educate yourself about invasive species from the databases on Texas Invasives and others linked to from the site. (The plant invader pictured here is bahiagrass, introduced to the U.S. in 1914 from Brazil and my yard by some passing critter a few years ago!)