List of Invasive Species in Illinois Lake Michigan Region

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This page is a work in progress and not the final ILMIP product. The content on this page does not necessarily represent the views of IDNR and the project partners.


A comprehensive list of invasive species in the Lake Michigan Coastal zone is not practical for this discussion. A number of species non-native to the region do not reach the status of an invasive. An example of this is the common muellin, Verbascum thapsus. This plant is non-native, and is a poor food source for native herbivores. While sometimes abundant in habitats disturbed or degraded by human activity, sound management in natural areas reduces and eliminates this species without the need for specific control measures.

It is important to note that the term “invasive species” does not have a universally agreed upon definition. To some, any species that is not native to a local ecosystem is invasive. To others, the species must have a major impact on the ecosystem. This discussion on invasive species will focus on those that have the following impacts, any or all of which have an adverse impact on biodiversity:

  • Alters habitat structure – the invasive or its actions alter the physical and/or chemical makeup of the ecosystem to the detriment of most native species.
  • Alters the food web – the species itself consumes food at a rate that allows it to outcompete most native species. The species is unpalatable to most or all native species.
  • Forms monocultures – the invasive crowds out native species to the degree that it is the dominant or only species in a local ecosystem or within its layer of the ecosystem.
  • Integrative management – the invasive cannot be reduced or eliminated by typical habitat management plants; species-specific control is required.

If you are working to manage an invasive species that meets these criteria and is not on the list, please add it to the table.

Common Name Scientific Name Class Type Additional Threats
Asian Carp - Black Carp Mylopharyngodon
Fish Aquatic
Asian Carp - Silver Carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Fish Aquatic
Bloody Red Shrimp Hemimysis anomala Crustacean Aquatic Transport vector for pollutants.
Common Reed Phragmites australis Grass Aquatic, Terrestrial Possibly alleopathic, hydrological impediment.
Eurasian Water-milfoil Myriophyllum spicatum Broadleaf Plant Aquatic Recreational impairment.
Glossy Buckthorn Frangula alnus Broadleaf Plant Terrestrial
Lyme Grass Leymus arenarius Grass Aquatic
Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria Broadleaf Plant Aquatic, Terrestrial Hydrological impediment.
Quagga Mussel Dreissena rostriformis bugensis Mollusk Aquatic Concentrates man-made and biological toxins, economic impediment.
Round Goby Neogobius melanostomus Fish Aquatic Concentrates man-made and biological toxins.
Zebra Mussel Dreissena polymorpha Mollusk Aquatic Concentrates man-made and biological toxins, economic impediment.
Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus Novirhabdovirus Virus Aquatic Economic impediment.