Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Creative Uses for Invasive Species

Never doubt humanity's ability to destroy things.

It occurred to me that many of the anthropogenic extinctions have come about because humans wanted a species for food, fashion, or some other purpose. Now if we could harness that greed and gluttony for a constructive purpose, that would be awesome ...

One program against invasive species is Eat 'em to Beat 'em. Originally targeting lionfish, this approach works for any edible invasive. Garlic mustard is another.

But why stop there? Anything can be extirpated if humans hanker for it. Figure out interesting or fashionable things to do with invasives and promote them.

Spotted lanternfly, for instance, has spectacular wings -- the outer wings are metallic (pewter to bronze) while the underwings have vivid red patches. These could be used to revive historic crafts using colorful butterfly or moth wings, now discouraged due to the insect apocalypse. As lanternflies swarm in vast numbers and fly poorly, they are easy to catch. Strip off the wings and turn them into mosaics. Nymphs are bold black-and-white in one instar, red in another; they could be preserved in resin as scorpions often are. Make these into jewelry, sell it, and donate part of the proceeds toward extirpation efforts.

The emerald ash borer has metallic green wings. This is another good candidate for resin casting or mosaics. Imagine several hundred of these pests turned into a dazzling lampshade.

Florida has many invasive reptiles. Let's take a look at what we could do with these.

Edible: eat 'em to beat 'em!
* Burmese python
* green iguana
* red-eared slider turtle

Beautiful leather:
* African red head agama
* Argentine black and white tegu
* Burmese python
* green iguana

Things we could do to encourage extirpation:
* Promote killing invasive species as a natural opportunity for labor.
* Encourage hunters to ride their hobby horse as much as they want, as long as they focus on invasives. Some people just love to kill things. There is a place for that and this is it.
* Provide free lessons on how to identify, kill, and use or dispose of invasive species.
* Post a bounty that anyone can claim with an invasive corpse. Many species have been wiped out this way.
* Make sure people know that invasive species are unprotected and can be killed by various methods at any time, in any amount, by anyone, without needing to buy a license. Free food! Free craft supplies!
* Laws should distinguish between transporting live (illegal) and dead (legal) specimens.  Invaders with troublesome parts (e.g. lionfish spines) may require a free class and certificate for safe handling.
* Offer tax incentives or other perks for crafters, galleries, restaurants, etc. that use invasive species, with better perks for those specializing entirely in invaders.
* Use social media to promote uses for invasive species, like making a craft or recipe more popular.  Drive up demand, kill off the invaders.

All of this would be a great deal easier if the information were better organized. I've seen a few websites scattered around with a few recipes, but little else. Any individual could make a hubsite of information about invasive species with subsections on recipes, craft projects, etc. but it would be much more effective for state governments to do this (since invasives vary by state).
Tags: activism, crafts, food, how to, nature, wildlife
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