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Field Guide to Invasive Plants and Animals in Britain

By: Rob Hume
Posted on: 06 May 2015First Published: May 2015 issue of Birdwatch magazine

I wondered why a field guide would limit itself to ‘aliens’ (you need to separate them from natives, after all), and why ‘invasive’?

Invasive is taken to mean organisms with a potential to spread and cause harm, so while we have the obvious – Grey Squirrel, Fallow Deer, Canada Goose, Ruddy Duck, Signal Crayfish, Himalayan Balsam and so on – we also have insects restricted even to a single house (so far). Harlequin Ladybird is in, because although it got here by itself, it came from an introduced population in Europe.

The book is a classic glossy colour photographic guide, looking just as you might expect, with images, clear maps, identification tips (separating the aliens from the natives), notes on status, actual and potential threats and so on, and is very up to date and comprehensive. What do you know about Mediterranean Termite, Killer Shrimp or Southern Crestwort? Have you seen a Raccoon Dog or Crested Porcupine? What, exactly, was that parakeet?

The book is crammed with facts and shows how easily things can go badly wrong, although I’m hopeful that the Asian Super-ant stays put in its Gloucestershire flower pot. Recommended.

  • Field Guide to Invasive Plants and Animals in Britain by Olaf Booy, Max Wade and Helen Roy (Bloomsbury, London, 2015).

  • 304 pages, more than 1,000 colour photographs, 150 maps and line artworks.

  • RRP: £24.99, available from Birdwatch Bookshop from £21.99

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