Article in: Bird Conservation
February 21, 2008
Garlic Mustard, introduced from Europe in the 1800s has spread quickly throughout North America. It is a large problem because of how quick it displaces native vegetation.
The impacts of garlic mustard on birds are largely unknown, however, ground foraging birds may be impacted by changes in habitat quality. It does, however, affect a rare species of butterfly.
Garlic mustard also poses a threat to one of our rare native insects, the West Virginia white butterfly (Pieris virginiensis). Several species of spring wildflowers known as “toothworts” (Dentaria), also in the mustard family, are the primary food source for the caterpillar stage of this butterfly. Invasions of garlic mustard are causing local extirpations of the toothworts, and chemicals in garlic mustard appear to be toxic to the eggs of the butterfly, as evidenced by their failure to hatch when laid on garlic mustard plants. –National Park Service’s Plant Conservation Alliance
Generalized distribution of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in North America based on herbarium specimens and floras. – Canadian Wildlife Service
Once able to properly identify Garlic Mustard, it is possible to get rid of it. If enough volunteers are involved, it might be possible to eradicate the plant from an area.
Many areas have organized days to pull Garlic Mustard. For example, At the Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve in New Jersey, volunteers pull and bag Garlic Mustard every May. It may be too much to hand pull Garlic Mustard in large areas, but we citizens can at least keep it from spreading.
The Birdfreak Team battles Garlic Mustard every year, but we pull it whenever we can. Anyone can be a part of the Garlic Mustard Patrol, let’s eradicate!