Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

By Craig Stephani | October 25th, 2022

We can probably thank Jimmy Kimmel and this SNL skit for invasive species costumes trending this Halloween. 

The Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is a large, colourful insect native to China, Japan, India and Vietnam. Currently it is not present in BC, but it is established in 11 states including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These extremely harmful pests cause widespread damage by feeding on host plants’ sap using their straw-like mouthparts. They spend most of their lives on or travelling between host plants, such as grapes, apple trees, various stone fruits, and many other hardwood tree species. However, their preferred host is the Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), another invasive species. Unlike the Spotted lanternfly, the Tree of heaven is found in BC! 

In the province, the Tree of heaven has been spotted on southeastern Vancouver Island, as well as in the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan. This is creating growing concern among growers. If the lanternfly finds its way to BC, and the preferred host of the lanternfly is found in these important agricultural areas, the likelihood of this insect establishing itself here increases. This would lead to significant impacts to BC’s grape, fruit tree and forestry industries. Now that’s scary! 

The spooky season is upon us though and you will start to see yards, windows and balconies fill up with pumpkins, skeletons, cobwebs and all sorts of creepy goblins and monsters. Sure, all that sounds scary, but the negative impacts invasive species can have on our environment, economy, and health is even more spine-tingling! If you’re looking for a way to warn people to be aware of invasive species this Halloween – look no further than these five costumes inspired by invasive species that are already lurking here! 

Brown marmorated stink bug 

Brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys), first spotted in BC in 2015, grabbed headlines this fall – our own organization set a new reporting record with over 1,000 emails reporting sightings! These agricultural pests feed on over 100 different plant species including apple trees and grapes and is considered extremely destructive. You don’t have to worry about their bite, but they do have a foul odour when crushed! They are known to hitchhike long distances on vehicles so make sure you are practicing the simple steps of PlayCleanGo before traveling around the province. 

How can you recreate the look: Wear brown clothing, create a shield-like body out of cardboard with some white markings along the outer edge, make another pair of arms so you have six limbs total, give yourself two antennae and most importantly make two white bands on the upper part of your antennae – this is the beetle’s best defining characteristic! 

European green crab 

European green crabs (Carcinus maenas) are a highly invasive species in many parts of the world, including along the BC coast, and it is likely these crabs will continue to spread. Generalist feeders known to outcompete native crabs for food and habitat, they are highly damaging to eelgrass beds – critical habitat for many species of marine invertebrates and fish. 

How can you recreate the look: Wear dark greenish-brown clothing including mitts, create six fake arms so you have ten limbs total, design a headband that shows five spines per side along the side of the head and three spines in-between your eyes – this is a defining characteristic for European green crabs. 


Did you know that Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are one of the most widespread invasive fish in North America?! New populations are regularly found in southern BC and are likely the result of released pets. Goldfish can reduce the clarity of the waters they inhabit, which reduces the amount of sunlight reaching underwater plants. This results in habitat loss for native aquatic species. So, if you ever have a pet you can no longer care for, Don’t Let It Loose and discover what you can do instead. 

How can you recreate the look: Wear orange clothing including a hooded sweatshirt, attach cupcake liners, paper or felt circles as scales, attach eyes on side of hood, you can also add a tutu as a frilly fin. Despite their name, Goldfish come in a variety of colours, from olive to silvery-white to gold and orange. Feel free to play around with your colours! 

Red-eared slider 

Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) are popular pets in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, as the turtles grow to full size and become more difficult to care for, some pet owners release them into natural ecosystems. Once released, they compete with native turtles – including the endangered Western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) – for basking sites, food, habitat and can even pass on diseases!  

How can you recreate the look: Wear green clothing, craft a turtle shell using items like cardboard or foil roasting pans, and use face paint to create red patches from the side of your eyes then down your face towards your neck. These red patches are the Red-eared slider’s most recognizable feature. 

Giant hogweed 

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is an invasive plant listed as noxious throughout the province of BC. Not only does this large invasive plant have prolific seed production and vigorous growth, it also poses a health hazard to BC citizens. The leaves and stems of Giant hogweed contain a clear, watery, highly toxic sap that can cause hypersensitivity to sunlight – resulting in burns, blisters, and scarring if you touch it. 

How can you recreate the look: Wear green clothing, create and attach large, coarsely toothed, deeply incised leaves from fabric or paper. If you would like to be flowering, make multiple umbrella-shaped clusters of white to light pink flowers by attaching pipe cleaners to a hat in that pattern. Are you a punny person? Wear a pig nose to really get the HOG-weed look down! 

Spread invasive species awareness this Halloween by showing off your invasive species-inspired costume! Take inspiration from the ideas shared here or creatively highlight the invasive species you are most passionate about. There is no shortage of imaginative costume ideas to design. Check out how Projects & Grants Coordinator Lauren Bosch has turned her pets into Japanese beetles! 

Don’t forget to tag us if you dress up as an invasive species for Halloween! Use #bcinvasives or find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @iscbc!

And remember every one of us can play our part to stop the spread of invasive species by following simple steps to protect BC’s biodiversity and economy – familiarize yourself on the steps here

Craig is an Outreach Lead at ISCBC. He is passionate about sharing his excitement for nature with others. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, camping and exploring wild areas near and far. You can reach Craig at


By Craig Stephani | October 19th, 2022

The Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys; BMSB) has been making headlines across the province this October! ISCBC has fielded 1076 reports from the public in just a few days – setting a new reporting record for our organization. And the media was buzzing too! In just four days, we were contacted by every major media outlet in BC, curious and concerned about the bug that seems to be everywhere, and in noticeable numbers! What’s the big buzz anyway? 

These bugs, native to Asia, were first discovered in BC in 2015. Since then, BMSB have established themselves in the Fraser Valley, Metro Vancouver, Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island and the Okanagan Valley. And this year, BC residents have really taken notice of them!

So, why are we seeing so many reports for them right now? “The fall weather and shorter daylight hours signals them to look for cool, dry places to overwinter. This makes homes ideal places for them to be dormant and later emerge once spring arrives,” said Dr. Nick Wong, ISCBC’s manager of Science and Research.

Although the data is still being compiled, Dr. Wong had some insight into why we might be seeing more reports. “Since we’ve had nice warm weather into October in parts of the province, we’re likely seeing a surplus of stink bugs,” he said.

These bugs can come together in large numbers, such that an individual home may host hundreds, or even thousands of bugs. That is why it is important to prevent BMSB from entering your home by sealing off any entry points.

Okay, so we are seeing a lot of them but what is the concern? “BMSB are harmless to humans,” said Dr. Wong, “however, they have the potential to cause damage to several crops, including tree fruits, nuts, vegetables and row crops.”

Fruit affected by Brown marmorated stink bug | Credit: C. Penca

This damage causes bruises and blemishes on unripe fruits which can lead them to become infected, making fruits unappealing to eat. They also affect vineyards where even a few of the bugs can taint a batch of wine if they get caught in the crushing. Preventing their further spread into agricultural areas is critical.

You can help stop the spread by practicing the simple steps of PlayCleanGo. Making a difference is easy! Since these bugs are known to hitchhike long distances on vehicles, simply check your vehicle for any BMSB, and other invasive species, before travelling to another region. You can differentiate these shield-shaped bugs from native look-alikes by the  distinct white bands on their antennae.

BMSB comparison to a native look-alike

If you spot BMSB outside of urban areas in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, you can help by filling out the reporting form found on our website or the BC government’s online form. But because they’re already well established in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, unless you find one on a farm in these regions, there’s no need for further reporting.

If you’d like to learn even more about BMSB, check out our factsheet!

Craig is an Outreach Lead at ISCBC. He is passionate about sharing his excitement for nature with others. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, camping and exploring wild areas near and far. You can reach Craig at


June 3rd, 2022

This May, École Nesika students looked a little more closely at what grows in their backyards with the Invasive Species Council of BC. They were on a mission to find species growing in their community to include in a special field guide for kids to be developed by The Council. 

Not only will the kid-friendly field guide include native species children are curious about, it will also include some invasive species to avoid. “We hope that a kid’s field guide for the area will act as an engaging and age-appropriate learning tool to connect kids to their natural environment” says Cariboo Coordinator Camille Sangarapillai.              

Students started the project by investigating existing field guides and choosing things they liked from each. They decided that pictures, fun facts and the species’ names (common, Latin, and Secwépemc) were important to include in a kid’s field guide. One of the teachers remarked how excited they were that the students were enchanted by the technical field guides and wanted to make their own! 

Students practiced making pages for a field guide. They each chose a favourite species, such as the white-tailed deer above.
They included pictures, names and fun facts

The following week, Nesika students took to their schoolground forest to find species to include in the guide. They searched from the ground to the sky for animals and plants living there. Special species found include towering Douglas Fir trees, bounding mule deer, and nodding onion. A few students came across a cheerful light-yellow flower, in full bloom despite a cool spring, that they identified as Rough-fruited fairybells belonging to the lily family. These species are native to Williams Lake and are part of healthy ecosystems. 

While the students mostly encountered native species, they did find an invasive plant known as Western Goatsbeard. It has bright yellow flowers that, when they turn to seed, resemble giant dandelion heads. This was a great opportunity for the youth to learn strategies to curb the spread of invasive species, in this case to avoid blowing on Western Goatsbeard seedheads. 

The Council is using the list of student-identified species to help create the field guide and will be working with Williams Lake First Nation youth in early July to add more. The goal is to have a field guide for kids in the Cariboo by kids in the Cariboo. The guides will be developed throughout the summer and will be distributed to communities around the Williams Lake Community Forest in the fall.  

“I was so impressed by their exploration and observations. I have lived in the Cariboo for a long time and had never observed fairybells in flower. I can’t wait to see kids out on community trails with their guides in hand,” remarked Camille.  

This project was generously funded by the Williams Lake Community Forest, a joint partnership between the City of Williams Lake and Williams Lake First Nation.  

Nesika students spot a deer while out ID’ing on the schoolgrounds

Camille Sangarapillai is the Cariboo Coordinator and an Education Facilitator at ISCBC. She is grateful to live, work, and play on the traditional lands of the Secwépemc and Tŝilhqot’in Nations. In her spare time, she enjoys foraging, gardening, sewing and spending time with her children in the great outdoors. You can reach Camille at


May 20th, 2022

Each year, sponsors make Invasive Species Action Month outreach, contests and communications possible. Our 2022 sponsors have a range of involvement with invasive species. From incorporating our behaviour change programs into daily operations to encouraging clients to integrate Invasive-Wise strategies into their lives, they all take an active role in curbing the spread of invasive species in our province. We are deeply grateful to our sponsors, and this year we thought we’d ask them some big questions. Their answers are fascinating, and inspiring. 

When did you first learn about how serious a threat invasive species are to our landscapes and communities? 

Setetkwe Environmental: The vast distance of our operations means that we have rapidly learned the large variety of invasives through multiple bio-zones. From wild mats of Yellow hawkweed in the north, rapidly expanding clusters of Common tansy and Hoary alyssum near Barriere, and kilometers of Himalayan blackberry at the coast, we are seeing first-hand the diversity of invasives and the problems they cause in various habitats.   

Carleton Landscaping: 9 years ago, when we first started learning about native plants to help pollinators, songbirds and hummingbirds. And finding out most of our planted garden plants were exotic ornamentals. 

Quality Garden & Pet:  

Lorenzo: When living in Australia, I was involved in our local bush care group, learning about the many introduced invasive plants taking over the bush. The passion for removing invasives continues here in BC.  

Nara: I lived in England when the fear over Japanese knotweed spreading was truly cited in murder and suicide cases and the impact it can have on property values was a key plot line in TV shows and a novel. I was astonished when I moved back to the Coast to see it blooming everywhere! 

Enbridge: As a responsible owner/leaser of land, Enbridge has been actively managing invasive species in British Columbia for many decades and has specifically been involved with ISCBC since 2009. 

Can you remember a story in your organization or company that involved a customer or project and an invasive species?  

Carleton Landscaping: We have a client who has transformed their yard into almost 80% native plantings, where before there were borderline invasive clonal type species. They have seen an incredible amount of biodiversity come back to their property. They were so ecstatic about the results in their own gardens that they asked us to manage the riparian area behind their property. It has been 2 years now and we have removed all the Himalayan blackberry, Goutweed, and Periwinkle from the area, and replaced it with native trees, shrubs, and plants.  

Carleton Landscaping removed Himalayan blackberry (pictured above) and other invasive species from a client’s property and replaced them with native plants. | Credit: M Syvenky

Setetkwe Environmental: We like to think that when we control invasives in the gravel pits and roadsides, we are helping to reduce the spread of invasives, and hopefully we are contributing to the overall ongoing battle in our province. 

Quality Garden & Pet:  

Lorenzo: A customer wanted to plant ivy to cover a trellis in a shady area. We recommended and sold them the ‘Sausage vine’ Holboellia coriacea, which is evergreen, with fragrant flowers, and thrives in partial to full shade. 

Nara: We still get folks asking for certain invasive plants, Periwinkle being an almost weekly request. Most customers are very appreciative of the education about invasives and keen to learn about alternatives. We can barely keep the Grow Me Instead brochures topped up! 

Enbridge: The best stories are from the many occasions in which Enbridge has collaborated successfully with landowners to control invasive species on the landscape. We share successes and challenges with stakeholders and learn from each other. 

What is an “invasive-wise” practice that you would recommend to your community?  

Carleton Landscaping: Learn about native plants in their area and choose native plants for their gardens! 

Quality Garden & Pet: 

Lorenzo: Firstly, don’t plant invasives. Be mindful of how you dispose of garden waste as home composting does not often reach high enough temperatures to kill the seeds. 

Nara: Tackle the worst offenders first. Daphne laurel, English holly, and Himalayan blackberry are easiest to pull out as small seedlings. Nip them before they get the chance to grow strong roots. It’s actually quite therapeutic chasing out the stolons of Periwinkle and Yellow archangel in the spring or autumn when the soil is wet. 

Enbridge has a great appreciation for the PlayCleanGo® Stop Invasive Species In Your Tracks® campaign and the company uses PlayCleanGo® resources to help inform employees and contractors about helpful practices to protect the land. As pipeline right-of-ways are on public land – and often used by the public accessing these corridors – Enbridge encourages everyone to learn more about the PlayCleanGo® public education campaign. 

About our 2022 Sponsors: 

Setetkwe Environmental Inc is an Aboriginal-owned company based in the North Thompson Valley.  Created in 2015, they treat invasive and noxious weeds on the TransMountain Pipeline from Valemount to Kamloops and Chilliwack to Westridge Terminal.  Setetkwe Environmental also battles invasives along forest service roadsides and in gravel pits in the Interior.

Carleton Landscaping is a Vancouver based landscaping company focused on native plants and ecological restoration. 

Quality Garden and Pet is a full-service garden centre, feed, and pet store in Gibsons on the beautiful Sunshine Coast.

Enbridge is North America’s leading energy infrastructure company. The company transports, distributes and generates energy, with diversified assets that include a balance between crude oil and natural gas, as well as an expanding renewables business. In British Columbia, Enbridge operates the Westcoast Energy Natural Gas pipeline system.