Invasive species — those that are exotic and don't naturally occur in an area — cause economic or environmental harm, and could negatively affect human health.

And they're the No. 1 threat to biodiversity on protected lands.

Invasive species don't know boundaries; as a result, public, private lands, natural and man-made water bodies, and associated watersheds are affected.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week — Feb. 21-27 — raises awareness of this problem.

Florida agriculture annually loses an estimated $179 million from invasive pests, according to

Generally, eradicating an invasive species is difficult and expensive, so most mitigation efforts focus on control.  

Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System, a web-based way to report invasive species, shows 667 invasive plants reported in Florida.

Many invasive insects, animals and diseases have also landed in Florida. Some famous invasive species include cogongrass, wild hogs, red imported fire ants, Chinese tallow and lionfish.

For National Invasive Species Awareness Week, the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Northwest Extension District will highlight two invasive species each day.

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