(Seguin) -- They are natural predators, spread diseases and they are probably lurking in your own backyard. However, the only problem is that for most us, we can't spot them or even realize that they pose a danger. Invasive species or non-native vegetation are a growing problem in the local ecosystem. They are also harmful to humans, the environment and impact the economy.
That's according to Nancy Masterson, a member of the Guadalupe Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists.
Masterson says in hopes of helping others identify and eradicate invasive species from local properties, the group is inviting the public to a free Invaders of Texas workshop this Saturday on the campus of Texas Lutheran University.
"A lot of homeowners don't know what's on their property. There are so many Asian plants that have escaped into our backyards and waterways that really tend to dominate and crowd out all of our grand old Texas natives -- the important plants that give food and survivability to all of our birds and wildlife and really make Texas what it is today. So the first part of Saturday's workshop is going to teach people what are the common invaders that they might be finding in their own backyards," said Masterson.
The damage done by invasive plants alone costs the U.S. an estimated $34.7 billion a year. Masterson says invasive species spread throughout an ecosystem, they decrease biodiversity and threaten the survival of native plants and animals. In fact, invasive species are a significant threat to almost half of the native U.S. species currently listed as endangered.
"There's growing interest in people becoming citizen scientists to really learn about the ecology of our region. Some of the popular ornamentals that we use to encourage to plant, we've now learned over the decades that they're costing more and more problems," said Masterson.
Masterson says The Invaders of Texas workshop will be presented by Justin Bush, invasive species coordinator with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the Guadalupe Chapter of the Master Naturalist Program.
"It's free to everybody. Anybody is welcome. You don't need to have any kind of a science background. It begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9th at Texas Lutheran University in the Dunne Conference Center in Tschoepe Hall. It runs from 9 (a.m.) to 3 (p.m.) and to sign up, you do need to go online to sign up. You go to texasinvadors.org -- you look for citizen science and the first workshop that pops up is Guadalupe Invadors and you just sign up there," said Masterson.
The workshop is free and is open to anyone in the community. The program will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the Dunne Conference Center located in TLU's Tschoepe Hall. Space is limited and advanced registration is encouraged. To registration online visit www.texasinvasives.org.