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Individual Highlight

Heavy infestations of Chinese privet in forests exclude most butterflies

Chinese privet invades riparian forest of the southeastern U.S. where it chokes out other plants causing a decline in butterfly abundance and diversity. Forest ServiceSnapshot : Heavy infestations of Chinese privet, an invasive shrub, to crowd out most other plants in affected forests. . This results in very few butterflies using those forests. Removing privet greatly improves the forest for butterflies, increasing both the number of species as well as the total numbers.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Hanula, James L. 
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 407


Invasive plants are one of the greatest threats to endangered insect species and a major threat to butterflies in eastern North America. We investigated the effects on butterfly communities of two methods of removing the invasive shrub Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), privet mulching and privet felling. We compared treated plots compared them to untreated, heavily invaded control plots and to plots on desired future condition forests which had never had extensive privet cover. Privet mulching resulted in nearly twice as many butterflies as privet felling and both treatments had more butterflies 2 years after privet removal than untreated control plots... We evaluated a number of forest characteristics but only herbaceous plant cover (excluding privet) was positively correlated with butterfly abundance and diversity. We concluded that removing Chinese privet from riparian forests in the southeastern United States greatly improved forest habitats for butterflies.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Scott Horn

Program Areas