The transition area between our front lawn and adjacent woods is a 'wild' area filled with woodland grasses, ferns, and mosses – lovely and very low maintenance, until now. Last July I identified Japanese stilt grass in a section about six to eight feet wide and long. Japanese stilt grass is a truly scary invasive that is overtaking roadside edges, drainage culverts, and wooded areas in my neighborhood and elsewhere in Connecticut.
Connecticut's woodland undergrowth is beginning to green. Unfortunately, much of this color is due to invasive Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii de Candolle). This thorny shrub dominates unmanaged wooded areas. Deer don't eat it and birds spread it by eating and dispersing the prolific red berries it produces each autumn. Japanese barberry quickly grows into large thickets that provide cover for mice and an ideal environment for immature blacklegged ticks - the very ticks that carry Lyme disease. In their early life, ticks are susceptible to desiccation – they need high-humidity at the ground level to thrive. Japanese barberry accommodate the high-humidity needs of young ticks by leafing out earlier than most native shrubbery, thus maintaining ground-level moisture by blocking drying sunshine.