British Columbia

Doesn't look like it belongs in B.C.? Please report it, say invasive species officials

From scorpions, to beetles and giant hornets, Metro Vancouver is at risk from pests that could harm the region's biodiversity.

From scorpions, to beetles and giant hornets, Metro Vancouver at risk from pests that could harm biodiversity

A large hornet captured by a North Vancouver couple in Vancouver. Officials say it's important to report insects and plants that don't look like they belong in B.C. (OneThousandGs/Twitter)

Officials worried about invasive species in B.C. want people to report insects, plants or animals that don't appear as if they belong in the province.

The call comes after some exotic wildlife showed up in Metro Vancouver. The worry is that some exotic species will become established in B.C., pushing out native species for space, food or light.

A couple in North Vancouver are concerned about B.C.'s honey bee population after they found and captured a huge hornet at an office along Vancouver's waterfront a week ago.

"We were absolutely mortified," said Valerie Greer. She suspects the big hornet is a Japanese giant hornet, which prey on honey bees.

"You know the minute that we saw it, we knew it wasn't right and we knew it didn't belong here," Greer said.

She and her partner kept the insect and froze it in their freezer. They're handing it over to officials at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia to try to establish a positive identification.

'This is not good'

"These things are massive," said Greer, referring to the hornet. "We just thought 'this is not good, we need to find out what the heck is going on.'"

Officials commended Greer and her partner for capturing the hornet and having it properly identified.

It's what they want others to do if they see something that doesn't look like it belongs in B.C.

This scorpion was found in a Vancouver home in May 2019. The woman who found it handed it over to a veterinarian. (Adrian Walton)

Gail Wallin runs the Invasive Species Council of B.C., which works with multiple levels of government to enable reporting and public outreach.

"Success is actually not finding something, but being the first ones to find it and taking action to get rid of it is a really positive thing," said Wallin.

The council has a reporting app, for residents to use to report a species that appears foreign. They can also contact the council with questions.

This slide shows what zebra mussels look like, a species that officials fear could affect B.C. lakes and waterways if it makes its way into the province. (CBC)

In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency manages the prevention and spread of invasive species into the country.

It says it has not had any official detection of Japanese giant hornets in B.C., but will do a risk assessment to determine if the pest can survive in Canada and if regulation is needed.

Officials with the inspection agency say concerned residents can also send the agency photos of insects or pests residents find. It advises that residents freeze insects and keep them in case officials want to follow up.

South Coast at risk

Wallin says it's important that if someone does capture an exotic insect or animal, to not release it before calling authorities.

Vancouver is currently working to contain a Japanese beetle known for eviscerating plants. As well, the region has seen several exotic species show up over the years.

This prop from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency shows a preserved Japanese beetle and a number to call if you find one. (CBC)

Scorpions, northern snakehead fish, mandarin ducks, and red-eared slider turtles are just some of species that have been found along with invasive plants like knotweed, giant hogweed and blessed milk thistle.

Wallin says the South Coast is particularly at risk because of its busy ports, growing population and moderate climate.