13 invasive species wreaking havoc in the United States

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This "Murmuration' Is Pretty Mesmerizing

William Shakespeare is to blame for one of the most highly-invasive species living in the United States.

Back in late 19th century, a Bronx-based drug manufacturer Eugene Schieffelin decided he wanted to introduce every avian species in the Bard's literature to the United States. To star, he released 60 European starlings, which were imported from England, into New York City's Central Park in 1890. The following year, he added another 40 to the wild.

More than a century later, there are starlings living in all 50 states, flying in flocks of up to 1 million.

The species easily acclimated to cities and natural habitats, such as grasslands, but this does not mean it simply assimilated into the U.S. ecosystem.

Not only do European starlings damage agricultural crops, carry diseases like salmonella and compete with native species for territory and food, but their tendency to fly in massive flocks has actually resulted in a loss of human life.

In 1960, a plane taking off from Boston's Logan Airport flew into a cloud of 10,000 starlings. The destroyed engines sent the plane plummeting to the ground, killing 62 humans aboard.

These birds are not the only common creatures that simply don't belong in the United States. There are dozens of plants and animals brought to North America by human error that are now disrupting the ecosystem.

Check out the gallery below for other invasive species out of place in the United States:

14 PHOTOS
Invasive species in the United States
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13 invasive species wreaking havoc in the United States

European starlings

Where it is found: All 50 states

Native to: Europe

How/when it was introduced: 1890, brought to U.S. by man who wanted to populate America with all birds mentioned in Shakespearean literature.

Damage it causes: Competes with natural species, eats food meant for livestock and destroys crops. 

Photo: Getty

Kudzu

Native to: Asia

Where it is found: Most states east of Colorado and Washington, Oregon and Hawaii 

How/when it was introduced: Late 1800s, meant for decoration and erosion control

Damage it causes: Grows quickly, crowds out native species

Photo: Getty

Burmese python

Native to: Southeast Asia

Where it is found: Florida

How/when it was introduced: Early 2000s, imported pets that escaped or were intentionally released into wild

Damage it causes: Preys on native species, competes with native snakes

Photo: AP

Brown marmorated stink bug 

Native to: East Asia

Where it is found: 42 states, most heavily found in Mid-Atlantic

How/when it was introduced: Mid '90s to early 2000s, possibly arrived in shipping material 

Damage it causes: Feeds on crops, trees and ornamental plants

Photo: AP

Lionfish

Native to: Western Pacific Ocean

Where it is found: Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic coast from Florida to North Carolina, Long Island

How/when it was introduced: 1980s, aquarium trade

Damage it causes: Preys on native species, extremely dangerous venomous spines

Photo: AP

Snakehead Fish

Native to: Eastern Asia

Where it is found: Potomac River, New York City

How/when it was introduced: 2002, release from fish markets

Damage it causes: Preys on and crowds out native species

Photo: Getty

Zebra mussels

Native to: Eurasia

Where it is found: Great lakes, Midwestern bodies of water

How/when it was introduced: 1988,  water emptied from ships

Damage it causes: Competes with native species, clogs pipes

Photo: Getty

Walking catfish

Native to: Southern Asia

Where it is found: Florida

How/when it was introduced: 1960s, aquarium trade

Damage it causes: Prey on native species

Photo: Getty

Great St. Johnswort

Native to: Eurasia, Northern Africa

Where it is found: 48 states, not found in North Dakota or Florida

How/when it was introduced: 1700s, introduced as ornamental decoration and cultivated as a medicinal herb

Damage it causes: Toxic to livestock, crowds out native species

Photo: Getty

Japanese honeysuckle

Native to: Eastern Asia

Where it is found: 42 states

How/when it was introduced: 1800s, ornamental decoration

Damage it causes: Crowds out native species 

Photo: Getty

Giant hogweed 

Native to: Caucasus Mountains and southwest Asia

Where it is found: 15 states spread across United States

How/when it was introduced: 1917, ornamental decoration

Damage it causes: Toxic sap can cause blindness, crowds out native species

Photo: Getty

Multiflora rose

Native to: Eastern Asia

Where it is found: 42 states

How/when it was introduced: Late 1700s, ornamental decoration, erosion control and natural fencing

Damage it causes: Crowds out pastures and native species with thickets 

Photo: Getty

Canada Thistle

Native to: Europe

Where it is found: 43 states

How/when it was introduced: 1600s, ‘Possibly accidental through farm seed shipments’

Damage it causes: Reduces crop yield, crowds out native species

Photo: Getty

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