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Exotic Species in Illinois

The Web page is designed to provide specific information and images about exotic animals, plants and other organisms in Illinois. To learn more about what exotic species are, how they are dispersed, how they differ from invasive species, controlling invasive species and stopping their spread, please see the May 2016 issue of Kids for Conservation®.

Terminology is important in the study of exotic species. The words can be confusing when you first encounter them. You should become familiar with the following definitions before continuing.

exotic species - In Illinois an exotic species is defined as one that was not present at the time when settlers from Europe began to arrive in the land that is now our state. They are also known as nonnative species or nonindigenous species.

nonnative species - Organisms introduced into habitats where they are not native are called exotic or nonnative species. They are also known as nonindigenous species and alien species.

invasive species - An invasive species is one that is not native to a particular ecosystem and that does or is likely to cause harm to the environment and/or the economy.

injurious species – Under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42), the U.S. Secretary of the Interior is authorized to regulate the importation and transport of species, including offspring and eggs, determined to be injurious to the health and welfare of humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture or forestry and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources of the U.S. wild mammals, wild birds, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles are the only organisms that can be added to the injurious wildlife list. Species listed as injurious may not be imported or transported between States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or any territory or possession of the U.S. by any means without a permit issued by the Service. In Illinois, these harmful species include, but are not limited to: bighead carp, black carp, Eurasian ruffe, rudd, round goby, rusty crayfish, silver carp, snakehead, tubenose goby, walking catfish, zebra mussel, Brazilian elodea, Hydrilla, Eurasian watermilfoil and the quagga mussel. You can learn more about injurious species at and

nuisance species – Aquatic nuisance species are nonindigenous aquatic species that pose significant ecological and economic threats to aquatic ecosystems. These species can include fishes, aquatic plants, algae, invertebrates, mussels, viruses and other aquatic pathogens. Nuisance species and nuisance wildlife do not mean the same thing. “Nusiance wildlife” refers to a single animal that is destructive or menacing. The animal may be damaging property such as buildings, crops, pets, livestock, gardens or parks or may threaten human health or safety by spreading disease, by direct attacks or accidentally. It may also cause collisions with cars, airplanes or trains.

The following lists show representative samples of exotic species in Illinois and are by no means complete.

Animals - Vertebrates

Animals - Invertebrates

Aquatic Invertebrates - Click here to learn more about these species.

     Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea)
     rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus)
     spiny water flea (Bythotrephes longimanus)
     zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)

Terrestrial Invertebrates - Click here to learn more about these species.
     emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis)
     honey bee (Apis mellifera)
     Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica)
     nightcrawler (Lumbricus terrestris)
     southern worm (Aporrectodea trapezoides)
     woodland white worm (Octolasion tyrtaeum)


Aquatic Herbaceous Plants - Click here to learn more about this species.
     water-clover (Marsilea quadrifolia)

     alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum)
     bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
     black mustard (Brassica nigra)
     blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis)
     bladder campion (Silene cucubalus)
     bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis)
     buckhorn plaintain (Plantago lanceolata)
     Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)
     carpet bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
     catnip (Nepeta cataria)
     chicory (Cichorium intybus)
     common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
     common forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides)
     common goat's-beard (Tragopogon pratensis)
     common periwinkle (Vinca minor)
     common reed (Phragmites australis)
     common St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum)
     common teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)
     common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
     cow vetch (Vicia cracca)
     crown vetch (Securigera varia)
     curly dock (Rumex crispus)
     cut-leaved teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus)
     Deptford pink (Dianthus armeria)
     garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
     gill-over-the-ground (Glechoma hederacea)
     golden buttons (Tanacetum vulgare)

Terrestrial Herbaceous Plants - Continued - Click here to learn more about these species.
     hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale)
     hedge parsley (Torilis japonica)
     Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica)
     Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense)
     musk thistle (Carduus nutans)
     orange day lily (Hemerocallis fulva)
     orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata)
     ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
     parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)
     purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
     purple rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
     Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota)
     red clover (Trifolium pratense)
     salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)
     sand goat's-beard (Tragopogon dubius)
     sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata)
     spotted knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii)
     sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)
     timothy (Phleum pratense)
     white loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides)
     white sweet clover (Melilotus albus)
     winter vetch (Vicia villosa)
     woolly mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
     yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus)
     yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis)
     yellow rocket (Barbarea vulgaris)

Trees and Shrubs - Click here to learn more about these species.
     Amur cork tree (Phellodendron amurense)
     Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)
     Amur maple (Acer ginnala)
     autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)
     black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
     common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
     common privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
     glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus)
     Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
     jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens)
     loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)
     multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
     Osage orange (Maclura pomifera)
     paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera)
     princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
     Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
     Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)
     strawberry shrub (Calycanthus floridus)
     tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
     winged Euonymus (Euonymus alatus)

Vines - Click here to learn more about these species.
     Chinese yam (Dioscorea oppositifolia)
     English ivy (Hedera helix)
     Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
     kudzu-vine (Pueraria lobata)
     Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
     wintercreeper or climbing Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei)