Invaders is the first in a series of three interrelated experimental pieces that combine graphics, text, and hyperlinks based on themes coming out of my Crazy River project, for which I gave an interview on this website on May 16th. Invaders plays with the idea of invasive species, which has to be the misnomer of the century. So-called invasive species do reduce biodiversity in their new ecosystems but they are all the result of human intervention. International trade has been the main agent for transport to new locations, but climate change has also forced many species to move beyond their original habitat in order to survive. Every invasive species does what all living creatures do, including our own: take advantage of opportunities. Invaders includes my Crazy River paintings, photographs, and a list of 100 species from an on-line source: The Global Invasive Species Database, produced by the Invasive Species Specialist Group, a global network of scientists dedicated to identifying and tracking invasives.
Each species from the list has a link that gives more information, followed by its common name in American English. Correcting a glaring omission, I added the link to homo sapiens because we are the most invasive species of them all. The other two pieces coming after Invaders will feature Crazy River works, graphics, and commentary on 1) the Catskills as place and idea, and 2) the concept of the Golden Spike in stratigraphy, and relating the stratifications in geologic time to the stratifications in historical time and personal time, or memory.
Acacia mearnsii-Australian acacia, Achatina fulica-giant African land snail, Acridotheres tristis-mynah bird, Adelges Tsugae-hemlock wooly adelgid, Aedes albopictus-Asian tiger mosquito, Anopheles quadrimaculatus-common malaria mosquito, Anoplolepis gracilipes-yellow crazy ant, Anoplophora glabripennis–Asian longhorned beetle, Aphanomyces astaci–crayfish plague, Ardisia elliptica–shoebutton ardisia
Feral hogs’ huge impact on habitat and farmland have made them notorious to the point of becoming a meme. They are a hybrid of domesticated pigs and European boars imported for sport. Prevalent in the southeastern United States, Texas, and California, they have spread into southern Canada, where they winter over in warrens called “pigloos” made from excavated snow. It is only a matter of time before they make their way into the rest of the US. They forage by night, tearing up swaths of ground in search of food, and they will eat anything. Powerfully built, resourceful, prolific, and as intelligent as dolphins by some accounts, they are difficult to remove once they take hold in any location. If humans go extinct, feral hogs could replace them as the apex species, perhaps developing their own civilization.
Arundo donax–giant reed, Asterias amurensis–northern Pacific seastar, Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV)–banana bunchy top virus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis–frog chytrid fungus, Bemisia tabaci–sweet potato whitefly, Boiga irregularis–brown tree snake, Rhinella marina–cane toad, Capra hircus–domestic goat, Carcinus maenas–European green crab, Caulerpa taxifolia–killer alga, Cecropia peltata–snakewood tree, Cercopagis pengoi–fishhook waterflea, Cervus elaphus–red deer, Chromolaena odorata–Siam weed, Cinchona pubescens–red cinchona, Clarias batrachus–walking catfish, Clidemia hirta-soapbush, Coptotermes formosanus–Formosan subterranean termite, Cryphonectria parasitica–chestnut blight, Cyprinus carpio–Eurasian carp, Dreissena polymorpha–zebra mussel, Eichhornia crassipes–water hyacinth, Eleutherodactylus coqui–Puerto Rican tree frog, Eriocheir sinensis–Chinese mitten crab, Euglandina rosea–rosy wolfsnail, Euphorbia esula–leafy spurge, Polygonum cuspidatum–Japanese knotweed, Felis catus–domestic cat, Gambusia affinis–western mosquitofish, Hedychium gardnerianum-wild ginger, Herpestes javanicus-small indian mongoose, Hiptage benghalensis-hiptage, Homo Sapiens–human being
Homo Sapiens, or humans, are the worst invasive species on the planet. They are found on every continent, even Antarctica. Wherever they go, they destroy biodiversity, establishing colonies that spread waste and toxic chemicals in the ground, water, and air. Their population has grown to the point that they are precipitating a sixth mass extinction. Some specimens are more destructive than others in the amount of waste they produce. The example above shows a particularly virulent strain of homo sapiens called “Western Whites.” They consume massive amounts of resources, even relative to other members of the species. If this species is not brought under control in the next thirty years, their damage could last for millennia.
A member of the Buckwheat family, Japanese Knotweed got introduced to North America as an ornamental and has spread rapidly across the US and Canada. Its rhizomal root structure allows it to establish quickly, pushing out other plants. It is very difficult to eradicate as even the smallest root section will allow new shoots to grow. It grows well in humid areas, especially streamside where it can block efforts at flood mitigation. In the UK its cuttings are classified as controlled waste. Originating on the sides of volcanoes in Japan, it can grow through asphalt, break down concrete, and generally compromise architectural sites. Herbicides appear to be the best method for controlling their spread. The shoots are edible when young and the Japanese pickle them in brine. They are an excellent source of the nutraceutical resveratrol.
Mnemiopsis leidyi–comb jelly, Mus musculus–house mouse, Mustela erminea–stoat, Myocastor coypus-nutria, Morella faya-fire tree, Mytilus galloprovincialis-Mediterranean mussel, Oncorhynchus mykiss-rainbow trout, Ophiostoma ulmi sensu lato-Dutch elm blight, Opuntia stricta-prickly pear cactus, Oreochromis mossambicus-Mozambique tilapia, Oryctolagus cuniculus–European rabbit, Pheidole megacephala-big-headed ant, Phytophthora cinnamomi–root rot disease, Pinus pinaster-maritime pine, Plasmodium relictum-avian malaria
Platydemus manokwari-New Guinea flatworm, Pomacea canaliculata–channeled apple snail, Potamocorbula amurensis-Amur River clam, Prosopis glandulosa-honey mesquite, Psidium cattleianum-strawberry guava, Pueraria montana var. Lobata-kudzu, Pycnonotus cafer-red-vented bulbul
The Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is an insect that infests hemlocks. Its eggs have the wooly appearance pictured above. In its juvenile stage, it attaches itself to the base of needles on hemlock branches to feed on the sap. It has already decimated the hemlock forests of the Smoky Mountains and threatens the hemlocks of the Northeastern United States and Canada. The HWA came from East Asia to North America by accident, and has spread through the transport of infested trees to forested locations. The main hemlock species in the Northeast and central and eastern Canada is Tsuga Canadensis. It is a keystone species, meaning its presence determines the makeup of an entire ecosystem. If the HWA wipes out Tsuga Canadensis, its disappearance will have a major impact on those forests, including removing winter food for wildlife and producing warmer streams.
Lithobates catesbeianus-American bullfrog, Rattus rattus–black rat, Rubus ellipticus-golden evergreen raspberry, Salmo trutta-brown trout, Salvinia molesta-giant salvinia, Schinus terebinthifolius-Brazilian peppertree, Sciurus carolinensis-eastern gray squirrel, Solenopsis invicta-fire ant, Spartina anglica-common cordgrass, Spathodea campanulata-African tulip tree, Sphagneticola trilobata-Bay Biscayne creeping-oxeye, Sturnus vulgaris-starling, Sus scrofa-pig, Tamarix ramosissima-salt cedar, Trachemys scripta elegans-red-eared slider, Trichosurus vulpecula-common brushtail possum, Trogoderma granarium-khapra beetle, Ulex europaeus-common gorse, Undaria pinnatifida-wakame kelp, Vespula vulgaris-common wasp, Vulpes vulpes-red fox, Wasmannia auropunctata-electric ant
Hovey Brock is a writer, art critic, and painter who divides his time between Claryville, NY and Brooklyn, NY. His Crazy River series has been in the works since 2017. The project consists of autobiographical paintings and essays about the impact of climate change on the West Branch of the Neversink. He also has done several salons about artists who make works about climate change and its effects. Most recently he published an essay in Appalachia Journal, “Crazier River: The Neversink Goes Rogue in the Climate Crisis.”