Coastal Invasive Species Committee

  October 2014 E-News


I -   Coastal ISC News and Updates
II - Upcoming Events
III -Peo
ple in Action
IV - Regional News
V -   BC and International News
VI - Resources and Tidbits

Photo: Rubus armeniacus (discolor) in flower

I -  Coastal ISC News and Updates

The signs of fall are creeping in with cooler evenings, leaves changing colour and Canada geese (and snowbirds) heading south. For those who stick around for the winter, now is a good time to clean up the garden, enjoy the crisp weather, watch salmon spawning in local rivers and look back on summer accomplishments. One accomplishment that we are proud of is our partnership with other regional weed committees throughout BC to bring you Alienbusters; fun and educational resources to help you defend your property from Knotweed. We began distributing these resources this past summer through Knotweed Programs and our Integrated Pest Management Contractors. As field work wraps up for the season, we look forward to sharing the highlights with you in the next newsletter and at the 2015 Spring Forum June 12th (location TBA - Central Island).

Coastal ISC was pleased to welcome two new staff members this summer – Jenny Eastman and Cynthia Bendickson!  Jenny has taken on the role of the CRISP Coordinator for the Capital Regional Invasive Species Partnership, while Cynthia is taking on the role of Program Coordinator during Alison Millham’s maternity leave. 

Jenny Eastman joins CRISP part-time, with both biology and education degrees and a life-long fascination with our coastal ecosystems.  Jenny has managed environmental education and volunteer programs for various local government agencies for over fifteen years (currently with Saanich Parks and the Pulling Together Volunteer Program). She also teaches biology and math to secondary school and adult learners.  Jenny has visited, volunteered and worked in almost twenty countries, always with an eye to unique local ecosystems and invasive species biology, and an interest in how different jurisdictions manage this challenging issue.  Jenny and her family also run a small organic farm on the Saanich Peninsula.  She is currently perfecting her strawberry and invasive knotweed crisp recipe.

Cynthia Bendickson is a Registered Professional Biologist who comes to the Coastal ISC with a wealth of knowledge about ecology and invasive species management.  After graduating from UBC in Agroecology, she spent five years in the UK working in local government and managing nature reserves, including controlling invasive species such as Japanese knotweed, Giant hogweed, and Himalayan balsam.  Since returning to BC she has been involved with a wide range of projects, including monitoring non-native Canada geese and their impacts on vegetation in the Campbell River estuary, acting as Volunteer Coordinator at Greenways Land Trust, and assisting with the development of a Sunshine Coast Biodiversity Strategy.  Cynthia is excited to be working with Coastal ISC because she is passionate about maintaining and enhancing the biodiversity of the BC coast!   

Coastal ISC is also very pleased to announce another addition to the team - Alison Millham had a healthy baby boy on Sept. 18.  Congratulations and best wishes to her and her family!

II - Upcoming Events

October 6-10, 2014 - Society for Ecological Restoration Great Basin: Collaborative Restoration, Redmond, Oregon

October 14-17, 2014 - 12th Annual Weeds Across Borders (WAB) international conference on invasive species, Ottawa, Ontario

October 23, 2014Invasive Ant Workshop, Vancouver.  In partnership with the provincial government, the Invasive Species Council of BC will be hosting an invasive ant workshop for local governments and stakeholders affected by invasive ants in Vancouver.

October 28-30, 2014 - Bi-Annual Integrated Vegetation Management Association of BC Conference: New Technology, New Techniques, Richmond BC

November 4, 2014 Webinar: Invasive Ants of Canada. Register Online.

January 20-21, 2015ISCBC 10th Anniversary Public Forum and AGM in Richmond, BC.

III - People in Action

With the coming of the autumn rains and many plants starting to enter dormancy for the winter, our knotweed programs are starting to wrap up for this year.  We partnered with communities from all over Vancouver Island to treat this aggressive invasive which can be incredibly damaging to infrastructure and riparian areas.  Knotweed programs ran in the Capital Regional District, the Town of Qualicum Beach, and the Comox Valley Regional District including the City of Courtenay, the Town of Comox and the Village of Cumberland.  We are still tallying the final numbers, but over 80 sites were treated this year!  We are incredibly encouraged by the support and partnerships gained this year, thank you to all of our partners, landowners, and members of the public who reported knotweed for the programs.

Spartina control and surveys on coastal beaches have been ongoing throughout the summer.  Our surveyors have been as far afield as the Discovery Islands (including Quadra and Cortes) in the north end of the Salish Sea, to Tofino and Ucluelet out on the west coast.  We hope to run a Spartina workshop for local stakeholders in partnership with Ducks Unlimited in the next few months, stay tuned!

Coastal ISC has also entered into a new partnership with the City of Campbell River to develop an Invasive Plant Management Summary and Implementation Plan.  We are very excited to develop this partnership with the City and work with local stakeholders including BroomBusters and Greenways Land Trust on a plan for tackling invasive plants in Campbell River.

Spotlight on: European Fire Ants                    By Kelsey Cullen
The latest alien invader to plague coastal communities is a bug with a bite: the European Fire Ant (Myrmica rubra). These small red ants are identified by their characteristic rapid swarming and readily stinging behaviour. Much is still unknown about these pesky pests, and that is why the Coastal Invasive Species Committee is working with Dr. Rob Higgins from the Thompson Rivers University to find out more about European Fire Ants on Vancouver Island.
As the Coastal ISC's Field and Outreach Assistant, I have been working collaboratively with various homeowners to test new controls for European Fire Ants and offer assistance in finding and baiting current nest sites for the species. I’ve also been conducting some random sampling and mapping the distribution of European Fire Ants in the Greater Victoria area, Nanaimo, and Courtenay throughout the month of August to get a better understanding of their spread.
Experimental testing is being done in the Greater Vancouver area and closer to home in Oak Bay to try and find a deterrent and/or treatment method for this highly invasive species. At present, the most effective way to battle them is to keep your yard clear of any preferred habitats such as lawn ornaments and paving stones, and to check potted plants purchased from nurseries for any surprise hitchhikers. If we can use early detection and rapid response, we may yet be able to stop these ants from marching two by two into our neighborhoods, public parks, and backyards.

Of additional concern is the presence of secondary invasive ant species on Vancouver Island. Myrmica specioides, the “Lesser Fire Ant”, has been identified in Saanich and Oak Bay. This species spreads quickly with the aid of multiple flying queens present in the colony. Other invasive ant species present in the Greater Victoria area include the Argentine Ant and the Tropical Stinging Ant; both have the ability to become a widespread nuisance in the future.
At this time, there is no guaranteed control method for European Fire Ants but residents are encouraged to contact the Coastal Invasive Species Committee by phone at 1-250-857-2472 or e-mail if you believe that you might have these ants on your property.
For more information:
Coastal ISC
BC Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group
Thompson River University


IV - Regional News

Looking for a hands-on way to conserve and restore the environment? The Greater Victoria GREEN TEAM is a group of people from all over the Victoria area who get together to help restore the local environment in the Capital Regional District. This new program helps connect volunteers to a range of environmental and restoration projects all over Victoria. They get together and remove invasive plants, plant native species, and clean up shorelines in Municipal, Regional and Provincial parks. They also harvest and prepare vegetables at non-profit educational farms. It's a great way to: make a tangible impact on the environment; meet like-minded people; learn about the environmental issues facing parks; learn to become a leader and work as a team; gain volunteer hours; get your hands dirty and have fun! Please join us at If you need more information please email

BC begins mussel inspections
by Ragnar Haagen, Castanet,  Sep 5, 2014
The provincial government recently announced they have stepped up inspection enforcement of boats possibly containing either zebra or quagga mussels.
Authorities implemented a pilot inspection station earlier this month where they examined 132 boats and found no evidence of the invasive species. They also stopped and inspected 11 watercraft in Victoria and found nothing there either. These competition sailboats had traveled from mussel-infested Lake Ontario and were inspected at the Victoria Yacht Club. Read the full article here

V -  BC and International News

Parasitic fungus introduced in the UK to attack Himalayan balsam
by Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist, August 28 2014
Even if you love Himalayan balsam, it has surely become too much of a good thing as it takes over Britain's wetlands and riverbanks. But now it's facing a major setback - the deliberate introduction of a parasitic rust fungus from its native range in the mountains of Asia. Read the full article here

European Council adopts rules on invasive alien species
by KG/EUROPA, New Europe Online, Sept 29, 2014
Today the EU adopted legislation that will tackle the rapidly growing threat to biodiversity from invasive species. The Regulation is a crucial step towards achieving the EU's 2020 biodiversity targets, while also delivering on a commitment under the Convention on Biological Diversity to establish rules to address the threats posed by these species. Read the full article here

Why eating invasive species is a bad idea
by Daniel Simberloff et al ,Ensia, September 9, 2014
It seems like whenever an edible animal becomes an invasive pest, someone suggests that getting people to eat it will solve the problem. For instance, in 1998 the state of Louisiana induced famous New Orleans chefs to develop recipes for nutria, which are eating away the state’s coastline. Even highly visible invasive plants inspire dreams of a gastronomic solution... Read the full article here

The green snot taking over the world’s rivers
by Larry O'Hanlon, BBC, 
It began with a few small strange patches of slime, clinging to the rocks of the Heber River in Canada. Within a year, the patches had become thick, blooming mats. Within a few years the mats had grown into a giant green snot. And within a few decades this snot had spread around the world, clogging up rivers as far away as South America, Europe and Australasia. Read the full article here


VI - Resources and Tidbits

Invasive Species Toolkit for Local Government is a resource for real estate professionals, developers and local governments (including regional districts and municipalities) and elected officials in BC as a means of providing information on invasive species management tools and options. The toolkit provides: 
  • Practical information for municipalities and regional districts in planning or updating  invasive management policies and  programs
  • Practical recommendations for realtors and developers regarding invasive species on private lands such as the expanded Property Disclosure Statement
  • Overview of current legal framework (Acts, Regulations) available to local governments for addressing invasive species
  • Recommendations for bylaws and development review process 
  • Information on determining responsibility and management of private property impacted by invasive species
  • Information on key resources and reporting tools available on invasive species in BC
  • Best Practices for Managing Invasive Species on Utility Operations
Find the free download here

The Invasive Species Council of BC is pleased to announce the release of the new handbook, Best Practices for Managing Invasive Species on Utility Operations. By applying the best practices outlined, staff and contractors of utility operations can help limit the introduction and spread of invasive species, reduce future maintenance and control costs, align with provincial and federal acts and regulations, and be a responsible neighbour. The handbook costs $7 each.  Find more information here

BC Invasive Plant Survey - Take it today! This is part of a research study. Volunteers are needed to take the 10 minute survey. 

On the Lighter Side...


Thank you for your continued support!

Coastal ISC Staff and Partners in Action!

Contractor battles Giant
Hogweed along French

Coastal ISC Staff
from left to right: Kelsey,
the field tour at Butterchurch

Summer Field Tour participants
looki at traditional
food and medicine plants