Nuisance Species Plans

Kentucky's Invasive/Nuisance Species

Kentucky Aquatic Nuisance Species Plan

Kentucky's Terrestrial Nuisance Species Plan

Citizens Guide to Nuisance Species in Kentucky

What are nuisance species?

Nuisance species are non-native species (a.k.a. exotic, alien, or non-indigenous) that have moved outside their native range AND threaten native species and interfere with important commercial, agricultural, and recreational actives.

Why do some species become "nuisances"?

Natural “checks and balances” such as predators, parasites, diseases, and competitors do not exist outside of the native ranges of these species creating an environment where they can dominate and become “nuisances.” Native species are not used to living with these new species and are not adapted to eat them or compete with them.

Fact Sheets for Nuisance Species in Kentucky

What nuisance species in Kentucky pose the most serious threat?

The Kentucky Exotic Plant Council lists the following species as "severe threats" in Kentucky:

  • Ailanthus altissima  - Tree-of-heaven
  • Alliaria petiolata - Garlic mustard
  • Carduus nutans  - Musk thistle
  • Celastrus orbiculata - Oriental bittersweet
  • Conium maculatum - Poison hemlock
  • Coronilla varia - Crown vetch
  • Dioscorea oppositifolia - Chinese yam
  • Elaeagnus umbellata - Autumn olive
  • Euonymus alatus - Winged euonymus, burningbush
  • Euonymus fortunei - Winter creeper
  • Festuca arundinacea (Lolium arundinaceum) - Kentucky 31 fescue
  • Lespedeza cuneata - Sericea lespedeza
  • Ligustrum sinense, L. vulgare - Privet
  • Lonicera japonica - Japanese honeysuckle
  • Lonicera maackii, L. morrowi, L. tatarica - Bush honeysuckle, Morrow.s, tartarian h.s.
  • Lythrum salicaria - Purple loosestrife
  • Melilotus alba - White sweet clover
  • Melilotus officinalis - Yellow sweet clover
  • Microstegium vimineum - Japanese grass
  • Miscanthus sinensis - Chinese silver grass
  • Phragmites australis - Common reed
  • Polygonum cuspidatum - Japanese knotweed
  • Pueraria lobata - Kudzu
  • Rosa multiflora - Multiflora rose
  • Sorghum halapense - Johnson grass
  • Stellaria media - Chickweed

Why should we make an effort to stop the spread of nuisance species?

Nuisance species have major biological, economical, and aesthetic impacts on Kentucky.

Biological Impacts include the degradation of native habitats, reduced abundance of native species, and the loss of biodiversity on a global level.

Economic Impacts include increased business costs due to interference with commercial fishing, aquaculture operations, logging, and agriculture. In addition, tourism dollars are lost when recreational experiences such as hunting, hiking, fishing, swimming, and boating are no longer possible or pleasant.

Aesthetic Impacts of nuisance species are negative when invasion by non-native species results in an inability of the citizens of Kentucky to enjoy and pass along to future generations favorite fishing, hunting, and hiking areas.

What you can do to prevent the spread of these nuisance species

  • Do not release fish and aquatic plants
  • Remove any visible plants and seeds from transportation sources, equipment, dogs, and clothing before leaving an area.
  • Do not move firewood! Never bring firewood into Kentucky from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin. These states are under a federal quarantine that restricts the movement of firewood out of those states in efforts to control the spread of the emerald ash borer, an insect that threatens Kentucky’s ash trees.
  • Backcountry hunters and hikers using pack animals and horseback riders should feed those animals only with locally certified hay. Out-of-state hay could easily contain nuisance species seeds.
  • Stop aquatic hitch-hikers! Switch to bulb-shaped or strap anchors on decoys. These do no collect submersed or floating plants as easily.
  • Rinse transportation sources and equipment thoroughly with hard spray or HOT (105° F) water, like that found at a do-it-yourself carwash. Wash your dog with clean water and brush its coat.
  • Due to the threat from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), it is illegal to bring live cervids (including deer, elk, reindeer, and moose) into Kentucky from out of state. Whole carcasses of cervids harvested in CWD-positive states may not come into or pass through Kentucky unless the brain and spinal column have been removed. For more information please visit

Where can I obtain more information about nuisance/invasive species in Kentucky?

Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council