Critically endangered...alien invaders?!?  We are not talking about critters across the world or aliens from Mars...we are talking about the plants, animals, and insects found in natural areas near you!

Zebra Mussels, Photo Credit- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The aliens have landed in Wisconsin! You may see them and not even know they are aliens. These invaders are actually exotic plants and animals that have been introduced to our state from other countries or habitats on purpose or by accident. They can cause all kinds of problems for plants and animals that have always lived in our state. Read these stories and find out how to pick aliens out of a crowd, learn how to identify impostors, and how to help exterminate these alien invaders before they take over!

Autumn Morning Over Lake

Endangered species are animals, plants or other life forms facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Fishing Pier on River

Animals that are designated as protected, meaning no person may take, attempt to take, transport or possess any protected wild animal unless authorized by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Trees in Autumn

A group of organisms that are scarce. Although it can be designated by an official body such as a government, unlike endangered or threatened, it is used more unofficially and without specific criteria. Usually rarity is used to refer to species with fewer than 10,000 organisms worldwide.

Swamp Water with Flamingos

An animal or other life form with decreasing population and geographic ange (area where a species can be found in the wild).

Summer Meadow

Common species are those that exist in large numbers. Somewhat common is used for species is on the scale between common and uncommon.

Sunset over River

Common species are those that exist in large numbers. Locally common species are common in a specific area or defined range.

Forest with River

Species that currently exist in large numbers but whose numbers are decreasing significantly.

River in Forest

Common species are those that exist in large numbers. A species may be locally abundant, but not broadly common.

Summer Sunny Meadow

A species is considered “abundant” when it frequently appears in sampling. A species may be locally abundant without being common widely.

Gypsy moth caterpillar
The gypsy moth (caterpillar) is a serious defoliator of trees and shrubs in North America.
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Gypsy moth
When Gypsy moths have an "outbreak," the caterpillars defoliate trees (eat all the leaves).
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Spiny Water Flea
Spiny water fleas eat zooplankton and compete directly with small fish that also need to eat it.
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Zebra Mussel
These critters remove incredible amounts of food from the water.
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Blanchard's cricket frog in the mud
Learn more about the Blanchard's Cricket Frog.
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You'll probably never see a lynx in the wild. They are uncommon in Wisconsin and pretty secretive.
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Eastern Ribbonsnake
This gartersnake resembles other gartersnakes at first glance.
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Emerald Ash Borer on leaf
Once these invaders get into a tree, the tree always dies.
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False Map Turtle
Both false and southern map turtles are very wary and will flee at the slightest disturbance.
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Gray (black) Ratsnake
When looking for snakes, you might not think to look up.
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Karner Blue Butterfly on leaf
Beauty and grace best describe this federally endangered species.
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Karner blue butterfly on a leaf
The karner blue butterfly life history.
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Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle
The multicolored Asian lady beetles look like common "ladybugs."
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Ornate Box Turtle
The ornate box turtle is an endangered species in Wisconsin.
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Peregrine Falcon
Faster Than A Speeding Bullet?
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Pine Marten in tree
The pine marten is nocturnal and we don't know much about them.
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This beautiful snake calls water home.
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Round Goby
This invader is a bottom dwelling fish with a large head, resembling a tadpole.
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Slender Glass Lizard
The name for this lizard is appropriate. When it's caught sometimes its tail breaks into many pieces like glass.
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Knapweed close-up in field
Spotted knapweed secretes chemicals into the soil that kill surrounding plants.
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Wolf pack
Have you ever heard a wolf howl in the wild? Not many people have.
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Western Ribbonsnake
There are less than a half dozen records of this endangered snake being seen in Wisconsin.
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Whooping Crane
2006 marked the first year that whooping cranes hatched in the wild in the Midwest in over 100 years!
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Wild Parsnip in field
Warning: Steer Clear of This Invader—wild parsnip juice + ultraviolet light = burned skin
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Wood Turtle
This medium-sized turtle is most easily recognized by its shell.
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