Dispose of unwanted plants responsibly and wash your boots are the key messages of this week’s Invasive Species Week (13-17 May).

Invasive plant and animal species are one of the biggest causes of global nature loss and species extinctions. They are estimated to cost UK horticulture £1bn a year and further £1bn to the wider economy.

A key message to us all regarding invasive plants is to beware of what you grow not to allow these plants to escape off your site. Unwanted plants must be composted. When you are out and about and visit rivers, woodland, meadows, make sure footwear starts clean and is free from mud and soil when you leave. The same for vehicles!

Examples of non-native invasive species include three of the most destructive slug pests to UK agriculture – Spanish slug, Sicilian slug and Budapest slug, water primrose (Ludwigia sp. – pictured above), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), Yellow skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) and Asian hornets.

Free online training modules are available from GB Non-Native Species Secretariat who also organise Invasive Species Week – http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=123