Invasive Species

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash BorerNearly a quarter of the trees in city right-of-way are in jeopardy due to a small beetle that is spreading throughout Overland Park, Johnson County, and the rest of the country.

The invasive emerald ash borer, about the size of a cooked grain of rice, was first discovered in 2002 in the Detroit area. It threatens both white and green ash trees.

Volunteers and City staff inventoried trees in the public right-of-way, recording location, species, diameter and height. Officials determined that 23 percent of Overland Park's street trees are ashes, and therefore susceptible to the tree-killing bug. This inventory does not include ash trees in city parks, along trails, waterways, and private property. Thousands more are likely growing in those locations.

Ash Lined StreetIt can be difficult to detect emerald ash borers until the fourth or fifth year of an infestation, when a tree's canopy is already damaged and sprouting has begun at the base of the tree. If you have an ash tree, have a certified arborist inspect the tree to determine whether the bug is present and if the tree can be saved. Missouri's Department of Conservation offers advice for managing an infestation. The City's Emerald Ash Borer Action Plan outlines how to get help for trees on public and private property. If your tree is beyond saving, consider replanting a tree from the City's list of approved street trees.

The City does not plan to treat any infested trees in the right of way. Homeowners are encouraged to seek the advice of a certified arborist to evaluate their tree and treat them if they so choose. Trees found to be in decline or dead, will be removed by the city upon request. It is the city's intent to replant lost canopy, however, funds will be a limiting factor. 

Shrub Honeysuckle

Shrub Honeysuckle competes with plants native to Overland Park for nutrients, water and sunlight. You can identify shrub honeysuckle easily in the fall; it has bright green leaves and bright red berries when most other woodland trees and shrubs have lost their leaves.

Tscreen shot 2016 11 10 at 4 56 01 pmhe shrub is a proliferate plant that outcompetes native species by growing earlier in the year and losing its leaves later than other plants. It propagates by sprouting along a large root system or through the droppings of birds. It is hard for native ecosystems to reestablish once this shrub has moved in. The shrub honeysuckle's berries provide very little fatty sustenance for migratory birds. The plant's wide root system is also shallow, meaning it does not hold soil together well and increases erosion. Wooded areas along stream banks and hillside woodlands are especially susceptible to this invasion.

You can do your part to cut back on shrub honeysuckle. During the fall or spring, cut the plants you see as low to the ground as possible and treat the stump with herbicide to ensure the stump does not regrow. Be sure to always wear impermeable gloves and eye protection when applying any chemical at home.

You Can Help

 There are many ways to eradicate the invasive species.  Bridging the Gap offers work day opportunities to promote native plant growth. The City's Adopt-a-Stream program will allow residents to help improve the quality of the streams near their homes by restoring an adopted spot and removing invasive species. Contact Overland Park's Water Quality Specialist Ian Fannin-Hughes at 913-895-6172 if you are interested in getting a group together.