Non-Native Species


Help us Protect the Parks

Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a non-native beetle whose preferred host are native ash trees. The EAB is a greenish, metallic-colored beetle that is smaller than a penny. It is believed that this insect pest was accidentally introduced into Michigan some years ago as a passenger in shipping crates imported from China.

They were first identified in northwest Ohio in 2003. Midwestern and Eastern State EAB Spread Map

They now occur in 50 Ohio counties, including Hamilton County. Ohio County Infestation Map 

Adults lay eggs under the bark of ash trees and the resulting larvae tunnel through the host tree’s living tissue, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients throughout the tree. Once infested with EAB, an ash tree will die in two to five years, having been effectively debilitated by the larval tunneling.

Unfortunately, EAB has been identified to be infesting trees in Woodland Mound, Withrow Nature Preserve, Little Miami Golf Center, the Avoca Trailhead and along the Little Miami Scenic Trail. Armleder Park, Sharon Woods, Glenwood Gardens, Winton Woods, Embshoff Woods Nature Preserve and Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve are also affected. The EAB distribution is generally spreading from east to west across Hamilton County. Only Fernbank Park and Shawnee Lookout have yet to show evidence of EAB as of November 2012. Withrow Nature Preserve, Woodland Mound, Little Miami Golf Center including the Avoca Trailhead and Armleder Park are showing very high infestations of EAB at this time in 2012.

The park district is continuing to work proactively to meet this challenge in several ways. From 2010-2012, approximately 850 specimen ash trees across the park district were treated with a highly effective injectable insecticide. During the same time span, 2448 replacement and reforestation trees in or near ash trees and areas expected to be negatively affected by EAB have been planted. Honeysuckle in ash forests is being controlled to encourage other tree species to take the place of ash trees killed by EAB. Those ash trees that have already succumbed to EAB have been chipped into mulch amounting to approximately 1,800 cubic yards of mulch used in tree plantings.

The following agencies provide comprehensive information about Emerald Ash Borer.

Don't Move Firewood

The forests of southwest Ohio have been under attack for years by a variety of non-native plant and insect species, but none have had the dramatic effect on our area as the emerald ash borer (EAB), which can now found in every Ohio county. Unfortunately, another potentially more destructive insect is making its way into our area called the Asian long-horned beetle (ALB), but so far it has not reached Hamilton County. These invasive species are spread mostly by people unknowingly moving infected firewood into uninfected forests and campgrounds.  If you want to help save our forests, follow these two simple rules:

  • Don't move firewood. Buy local wood and either burn it on site or leave it behind. Do not take it with you.
  • If you must buy firewood that is not local, buy only wood in its original wrapper bearing a USDA-approved logo, or buy firewood that has been kiln-dried. You can purchase clean firewood at Park District campgrounds and at Lake Isabella Family Fishing Center.

ALB Quarantine Map

ODNR ALB Information

Invasive Plants

Great Parks of Hamilton County is working to reclaim prairies, wetlands and forests dominated by invading weeds. Trained staff and volunteers use techniques and equipment that provide the best results with the least negative impact on the environment. Some of the control methods include cutting, hand pulling, mowing, burning, spraying or injecting the safest effective herbicides. Although we will never control all the invasive plants, the results thus far are encouraging. Many acres of park land have been restored to their natural beauty and diversity.

Featured here are five of the more than 50 plants considered to be a problem in our natural areas:

Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is our most invasive shrub. Bush honeysuckle leafs out earlier than most native plants, thereby shading out everything under its branches including native wildflowers and young trees. In our area, without any natural predators or controls, the bush honeysuckle has become weed enemy number one.

Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) was imported to control erosion and to be used as a landscape plant. This vine quickly forms dense patches that climb over and smother extensive areas of native vegetation.

Winter Creeper (Euonymus fortunei) is an evergreen groundcover. This tough plant carpets the forest floor, engulfing everything in its path.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is another prolific pest plant that poses a threat to native flowers and wildlife. This plant can out-compete native plants and wildflowers by monopolizing light, moisture and nutrients. The animals that depend on the many species of displaced native plants are also eliminated where garlic mustard prevails.

Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) may be pretty to behold with its bright yellow flowers, but it wreaks havoc on native species as its thick foliage smoothers out anything trying to sprout from under its leaves. Lesser celandine has even been seen spreading as much as 50 feet up steep hillsides.

Some other non-native invasive plants that escape into natural areas include:

  • Autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellate) 
  • Glossy Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) 
  • Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) 
  • Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) 
  • Asian Bittersweet (Celastrus orbicutus)
  • Crown-vetch (Coronilla varia 
  • European cranberry-bush (Viburnum opulus)
  • Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
  • Burning-bush (Euonymus alatus)