Cursed Knowledge #21: Invasive Species

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Cursed Knowledge is our podcast that explores how narratives, for better and worse, have shaped our world without us noticing. The world is full of people pushing their version of reality on us and it’s time to expose the truth. No matter how much you might wish we hadn’t.

Invasive species are a known “bad thing”. An organism that’s introduced to an environment and ruins it. So why don’t we do anything about them? And is there even anything we can do?

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  1. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Another great Cursed Knowledge! The spotted lanternflies are a big problem in NYC this year, for some reason they’re attracted to the plaza outside the office building where I work, maybe because the gray stone surface is about the same color that they are. And we even had one if them in the apartment! They’re hard to kill too, because they jump when you try to squish them.

    (By the way, when I heard “everglades”, I had to pause the podcast and play this song, which has my most favorite opening lines of all time.)

  2. Thank you for giving me even more reason to crush every lantern fly I see. For anyone dealing with these, they’re really dumb but fast. If you try and step on them from behind they will jump away. For whatever reason if you come at them straight ahead to step on them they either freeze or jump right into your foot. Good luck out there.

    Regards from the front lines in western Pennsylvania.

  3. They’re a real problem here in CT too! And they’re surprisingly durable so it takes a bit of effort to crush them.

  4. Really great podcast, Harper and Ben.

    The nutria is one of my “favorite” invasive species – a rodent native to South America that has been wreaking havoc on the marshland, levees, and prairies of the US Gulf Coast for over a century.

    Urban legend has it that EA McIlhenny, of the family that founded and runs hot sauce purveyor Tabasco, first imported them to America as a curiosity for his children…and that a hurricane that blew through Avery Island destroyed their pen and unleashed them into the swamp, where they’ve run rampant since.

    Perhaps most interestingly – one of Louisiana’s most prominent politicians has actually embraced this invasive species in his current re-election campaign to the state Senate.

    And it’s even bigger than that – cameos with Congressman Steve Scalise (a leading contender to become Speaker of the House), Lt Governor Billy Nungesser, Tucker Carlson and unauthorized endorsements of ballot initiatives by a nutria!

  5. Great podcast! “Step on 'em!” Another species, the iguana in FL, though I wouldn’t recommend stepping on them!

  6. I knew these guys were invasive but had no idea they were getting involved in politics! I also vaguely remember that a wildlife reserve had a huge hunting expedition done to clear them out.

  7. They’d be easier to kill if they didn’t look so cuddly! The spotted lanternfly should take notes

  8. Lionfish in the Florida Keys: Lionfish Hunting in the Florida Keys

    I’ve heard that if you catch a lionfish in the Keys, someone will be happy to cook it for you. (I’m still looking for a confirmation of that factoid!)

    And horses: I used to take lessons at a barn where someone had an adopted mustang that probably had some Andalusian ancestry. The horse was just beautiful, and they made a great team (specialized in dressage), but it took an incredible amount of work and patience, well beyond what most people – even horse people – have.

  9. Smallmouth Bass.

    “Step on them” - Ben and Harper Hunt re: Spotted Lantern Fly. Individual action!

    “Toss them dead back into the river or into the woods” - Smallmouth bass in the Rapid River, Maine, as of 2020.

    Yup, a favorite native fish which most everybody, myself included, loves to catch and occasionally eat has become an invasive nuisance in the native Brook Trout waters of Maine. The bass cannot be eradicated, and this rare refuge of wild 3-5# brookies has this big stress to deal with so fisherpeople are encouraged by the State to kill all bass in this river, and to keep an unlimited number with no size restrictions in the upper half of the State. It’s in the regs.

    It feels so odd to be such a different type of person when fishing this area. Normally I carefully release 95+% of all gamefish caught, but here I kill and toss all bass like a madman (most are 6-10”, if over 14” that gets released into the frying pan) and carefully send all trout back to their homes.

    Native fish. Highly regarded until it goes where it shouldn’t (usually illegally via “bucket-biologists”)

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