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Burmese pythons. Feral hogs. Murder hornets. Some invasive species make for dramatic headlines. Others, such as a climbing vine called kudzu, may sound less threatening, but they can cause major damage.

“It’s not just the fact that the side of the highway doesn’t look as nice with kudzu growing on it,” says Chuck Bargeron, co-director of the University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. “It’s what plant is that kudzu choking out? And what insect feeds on that plant? And what bird feeds on that insect?”

He says that as the climate warms, many invasive species may be able to thrive in areas that were once too cold. So he says it’s important to monitor the spread of invasive species.

And everyone can help.

His organization partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to create an app called Wild Spotter. With the app, people can identify and report invasive plants and animals they encounter while hiking, hunting, or fishing on national forest land. Then agencies can take steps to intervene.

“If you cannot prevent something, then the best solution is to find it early so you can quickly respond to it,” Bargeron says.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media