Removal of Invasives

Hi Everyone!
I am new to iNaturalist and am curious about how mapping of invasives work.
If an inventory is created for a specific area or on a specific species, and then appropriate measures are taken to remove these populations; is the easiest way for this removal to be acknowledged in iNaturalist to delete every single observation?

Seems like a timely task to do it this way, also I see there being confusion in identifying what exact individual is removed. Thanks in advance!

Welcome to iNaturalist and the Forum!

To the extent that iNaturalist is used to guide detection and removal of invasives, I would answer…

Absolutely not. Deleting the observations erases the record of what was there and when, and why removal efforts were conducted. Instead, the observations can be updated in the comments and/or descriptions to indicate that removal was conducted and that the population no longer exists in that location (if that was the outcome).


Observations should never be deleted if organism dies, invasive or not, iNat shouldn’t be used the way you describe, every observation is ided, by deleting it you also delete an effort made by experts. And of course those are historical records that can be useful in the future.


A small example of one I’ve done:


Thank you for the quick response! Makes sense. Thank you.


Thank you for your help and quick response! Totally makes sense. Thank you.

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I frequently report invasive plants right before pulling them. When I have removed a plant between the time that I took the photo and posted the observation (as is frequent) I note this in the text, usually later when I come back to the computer and am adding ID’s and commentary.

When I remove it later, whether or not I return to comment depends on a lot of factors. For plants that are either common/abundant in the surroundings, or that have a short life cycle relative to the control effort, I do nothing.

If it’s a long-lived plant such as a tree, shrub, or long-lived perennial, and there aren’t many of them in the area (i.e. to where I would consider it an “interesting” or notable observation), and I have made an observation of it, I will often update my observation or comment on it, adding text to explain that I have removed it.

How common is common? I’d say if it’s the only individual I know of within a 2 mile radius and it’s a plant that tends to live longer than the time that has elapsed between the observation and when I pulled it, that’s when I note it.

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Not in reference to anyone here, but I do want to add a general word of caution to iNatters who may find this thread…

Unless you are a professional (or working with one) who knows which invasive species in an area are being removed, and which method(s) to use to ensure attempted removal activities don’t just make the problem worse, I don’t recommend attempting removal yourself. Instead, document the presence of the species using iNaturalist observations and/or other channels preferred in your location, and bring it to the attention of the people responsible for control of invasives in that location.

In the personal example I gave above, it was a very limited infestation of a known non-native noxious weed (in that jurisdiction), and I knew to pull them very carefully onto an adjacent tarp to catch the fruits that would inevitably detach during removal. Even so, some had likely already dispersed, and it will require repeat visits to fully control that population.


Besides the other reasons already stated, I think this is another good reason why invasive observations shouldn’t be deleted after “removal”. There’s not many invasives that can be removed without repeat visits, and knowing where invasives may have been in the past is critical to understanding how to control their movements.


I have to disagree here. There aren’t to many professionals to go around, and invasive plants are a big problem.

Do some research and make sure you know what you’re doing. But you don’t have to a professional.


Yeah, this all makes sense. I guess it depends what is meant by “professional”…I would agree with @raymie that you don’t need to do this professionally to be knowledgeable about it, but I do think it’s important to be knowledgeable and cautious. Sadly, some of the people I have seen do the most damage are “professionals”, not in that they are professionals with training and/or a focus on invasive removal or ecological restoration, but in that a lot of them are professional landscapers, people who work with plants as a profession, including contracted landscapers as well as park employees or grounds crews of large organizations.

To clarify, I’m authorized to remove invasive plants from a number of places, like the grounds of an apartment complex where I do landscaping work, and also various places I have volunteered doing invasive plant control at various points, and some other random private property owners who have given me permission to do so. I also have been doing this type of work for years, I started out doing it under the supervision and guidance of others and have cautiously moved into doing it on my own. And, in all of these areas, I follow-up.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with invasive plant removal, and backfire, just to throw a few out there in case anyone reading this thread is not convinced:

  • Soil disturbance creating opportuntiies for new invasives to establish
  • Killing non-target species, which can happen with herbicide or hand pulling alike (accidentally damaging some other plant’s root system or even uprooting it)
  • Killing plants too late, after they’ve made seed, and possibly aiding their seed dispersal.
  • Transporting plant fragments, such as rhizomes or stems capable of re-rooting, to new sites when removing them.
  • Stressing other plants by changing the conditions in an area when removing invasives (especially an issue when removing trees, but can be an issue when removing any major vegetation layer that may shelter other plants.)
  • Other ecological damage such as soil loss or dessication, such as if removing plants on a large scale or removing vegetation on a slope or area prone to erosion.
  • Misidentifying things and removing native plants that look similar to native plants.

Unfortunately in my years working with this stuff, I have seen all of the above. People can be well-intentioned but do a lot of damage. I’ve made my share of mistakes too, thankfully nothing terrible or large-scale, but enough to really drive in the need to be cautious with this stuff.

When you know the plant and the ecosystem well there are times you can just casually pull. There are times I am out somewhere and I see a few isolated stiltgrass plants (that’s a good example because it’s easy to remove without disturbing the soil much) I might just pull them on a whim, but there are a lot of times when the situation just looks like a can of worms (a robust garlic mustard monoculture growing on a steep slope) and there is no way I would want to get involved unless I could have a lot of support and follow-up and measures to prevent unintended damage.


Thanks for this thread. I have been wondering the same thing.

Whether you should remove an invasive species depends on many factors including your authority over that piece of land. If in doubt, i would call your local extension. There’s a difference between me removing a barberry on my land, my roadside, my town park, or the Appalachian Trail.

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About 25 years ago I wrote to a local conservation charity to point out that invasive Cotoneaster was getting established in cliff grassland on one of their nature reserves and I offered to remove it. Their reply was “No thanks. There isn’t enough of it to be a problem yet.”


What does it look like there now? Don’t ask?


I haven’t surveyed for % cover but it has reached the foot of the cliff.


Or, to put it another way, “Why settle for a measly ounce of prevention when we can hold out for that pound of cure?”

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