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


By Steven Hayward, Callie Bouchard & Ksenia Kolodka | June 22nd, 2022

The protection of endangered species is critical to restoring biodiversity, especially in places where there is an infestation of invasive species. Our Stronger BC Action Teams have been hard at work removing various invasive species around the province and, along the way, they have found some interesting endangered native plants.

The Nanaimo Action Team and Campbell River Action Team met up at Oyster Bay Shoreline Park, a coastal meadow near Campbell River from May 3-5, 2022 to remove Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) and Purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum). These species have negatively impacted the biodiversity of the park by displacing native plants.

Oyster Bay Shoreline Park is a recovered logging camp marked with sensitive ecosystem signs, as the endangered flower Deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidei) was translocated here to help recover and replenish the species. Based on their conservation status rank, each species and ecosystem is assigned to the red, blue or yellow list to help set conservation priorities and provide a simplified view of their status. Deltoid balsamroot is an S2 provincially imperiled species that is red-listed, which means it is at high risk of being endangered or lost in the near future. Its current distribution is limited to populations scattered throughout Victoria, Cowichan and Campbell River.

Deltoid balsamroot

This park is also home to Coastal triquetrella (Triquetrella californica) moss. This is an S1S2 provincially critically imperiled species that is also red-listed. This species’ current distribution in BC is known only in two populations; Campbell River and Galiano Island. It was found on the sandy backshores of Oyster Bay Shoreline Park and had Purple deadnettle encroaching on it, which our Action Teams removed along with Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry. 

Coastal triquetrella

In total, the teams removed just under 25 bags of Scotch broom, Himalayan blackberry, and Purple deadnettle.

Before: Himalayan blackberry bushes
After: Himalayan blackberry removal
The result of hard work by our Nanaimo and Campbell River Action Teams!

Across BC, Canada and the world, invasive species pose the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. Experience with our Stronger BC Action Teams gives people looking for work in this province skills in invasive species management, setting them up for success in the environmental protection field. The hard work of our Action Teams is greatly appreciated! Check out our website later this summer to read more accomplishments of our Action Teams.

Ksenia is a Community Science Coordinator with ISCBC. She is passionate about nature conservation and taking film photos of the beautiful natural landscapes of BC. You can reach Ksenia at  

Steven Hayward is an Action Team Supervisor for ISCBC working on the ground to remove, manage, and prevent the spread of invasive species on Vancouver Island.


By Ksenia Kolodka & Katie Swinwood | June 9th, 2022

“Working with community scientists gives us a chance to interact with people with a wide variety of perspectives and broaden the reach and scope of our research to places that we wouldn’t normally be able to work.”  

Paul Abram, Research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada 


During fall time, you may have seen these shield-shaped bugs around your doorways or windows trying to find a warm place to settle down for the winter. If you accidentally step on them, you may notice they emit an awful odour. These are stink bugs – some are native, but some, like the Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) are invasive.

Invasive Brown marmorated stink bug | Credit: L. Buss
Native stink bug look-alikes | Credit: Gov. of B.C.

What is the Brown marmorated stink bug?

The Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is an invasive agricultural pest that can be found in BC’s Lower Mainland, Okanagan Valley, Columbia-Shuswap region, and Vancouver Island. BMSBs can be identified from other native stink bugs by their shield shape, white bands on their last two antenna segments, and white markings on their abdomen. Female bugs can lay up to 400 eggs during the summer on host plants. There can be up to two generations of bugs in a year if the weather is warm enough. The bugs mature in about five weeks, and then lay eggs the following spring. BMSBs spread by “hitchhiking” on vehicles, cargo containers, wood, and packing material. They can also be found on or in buildings and other protected areas over the winter. 

Brown marmorated stink bug

Impacts of BMSB  

The BMSB has a broad diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, seeds, green plants, and tree bark. They are especially a concern for orchard farmers, as BMSBs inject enzymes into fruits and vegetables that cause them to rot. Symptoms of a BMSB infestation include: deformed and discoloured fruits and seeds, shriveled berries and seeds, delayed maturity, increased sap flow and discoloured tree bark.  

Project details  

The Brown marmorated stink bug is controlled in its home region of Asia by the Samurai wasp (Trissolcus japonicus). While this parasitic wasp favors the invasive brown marmorated stink bug, it may also attack stink bugs native to British Columbia. The Samurai wasp was recently discovered in British Columbia and has the potential to be an effective biocontrol method for the Brown marmorated stink bug.  The BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food and scientists at Agri-Food Canada are looking for volunteers to collect the eggs of Brown marmorated stink bugs and other native stink bug species from June to the end of August, 2022. 

Brown marmorated stink bug eggs | Credit: Gary Bernon, USDA,

Impact of the project

Collecting the eggs will help determine whether Samurai wasps have parasitized stink bug eggs in British Columbia and if so, where this has occurred. Paul Abram, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada states that “Working with community scientists gives us a chance to interact with people with a wide variety of perspectives and broaden the reach and scope of our research to places that we wouldn’t normally be able to work. We often learn things about our study systems that we otherwise never would by interacting with people about their insect finds.” 

Reporting info 

The best places to look for egg masses are on the undersides of leaves of trees and shrubs that have small developing fruits or seeds, like maple trees, dogwoods and raspberries. However, stink bugs lay on a variety of different plant species. The total size of an egg cluster will be no larger than a dime. If you spot a stink bug around, it can be a sign that you will find eggs. If you find an egg mass, take a photo of it, put it in a small sealed container, and submit the photo and any other information here: If what you found is confirmed to be a BMSB egg mass, then you will be contacted with instructions to send the sample to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. 

For more information about the project:  

Coastal BC:

Interior BC: 

For more information about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug:

See our BMSB fact sheet here

BSMB life cycle

Ksenia is a Community Science Coordinator with ISCBC. She is passionate about nature conservation and taking film photos of the beautiful natural landscapes of BC. You can reach Ksenia at  

Katie is the Outreach Coordinator at ISCBC. She is grateful to live, work and play in Nelson on the traditional territories of the Ktunaxa, Sinixt and Syilx peoples. In her spare time, you can find her adventuring in the woods with her dog. You can reach Katie at