PlayCleanGo “Watch Out!” Cards Identify Common Invasive Species

Common invasive plant and pest species might be obvious to a professional invasive species manager, but totally unseen — perhaps even admired by — an everyday trail user. Imagine a hiker on an excursion, craning their neck to see towering trees, hearing birds, and admiring the lush shrub understory and colorful flowers. To them it’s all nature and all beautiful. They might even post a picture of the scene.

However as they leave the trails, the person might stop at a boot brush station and notice a warning sign showing those same flowers they just admired. 

Wait! Hang on a minute! 

The sign explains that those flowers are actually one of the area’s most common invasive species, silently destroying the beautiful landscape where they found peace mere moments ago. The hiker might be embarrassed or even a little agitated.

Had they studied up on the local invasive species, they might not have mistaken them as so attractive.

If only they had a deck of PlayCleanGo Watch Out! Cards. Currently featuring 12 of North America’s most common invasive species, these cards are available for purchase through our new PlayCleanGo store.

Introducing the PlayCleanGo Watch Out! Cards

While NAISMA’s PlayCleanGo program primarily emphasizes behavior change, we know some people want to learn a little more: “What exactly are we brushing off our equipment? And how is this really making a difference?” We designed these cards to help hikers, mountain bikers, birders, and other outdoor enthusiasts who want to be able to recognize the bad-green from the good-green.

The Watch Out! card does three things:

  • Briefly describes why the species is invasive
  • Shows images of the invasive species from a distance and up close to help you recognize it from the trails
  • Teaches you the simple steps of how to stop the spread of invasive species


Buy a deck now: 

What are the 12 common invasive species?

  • Wild Parsnip
  • Cogongrass
  • Common Reed Grass
  • Garlic Mustard
  • Gypsy Moth
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
  • Asian Honeysuckle
  • Hydrilla
  • Knotweed
  • Japanese Climbing Fern
  • Swallow-wort
  • Teasel

Why buy a deck now?

As of this writing, we’re in the middle of PlayCleanGo Awareness Week, a time to show outdoor enthusiasts how they can stop invasive plants and pests from spreading — while enjoying the great outdoors. But invasive managers and outreach professionals know how their work never ends. Educating the public about even the most common invasive species is a year-round endeavor, often subject to phenology and the whims of the people you’re trying to reach.

When you do get to talk to outdoor enthusiasts, send them home with a Watch Out! card or two. These wallet-sized flash cards are perfect for studying, baseball-card-style, and learning more about what they’re likely to encounter outdoors. Order a 12-species deck, or buy species cards in bulk if you know which plants and pests are most common to your area.

Krista Lutzke

Krista Lutzke

Krista Lutzke’s natural resources career began with the Wisconsin DNR in the Natural Heritage Conservation Bureau conducting invasive species management and later working as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative’s Phragmites australis Project Coordinator. Most recently she served as Conservationist with the Door County Soil & Water Conservation Department.

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