256 pages, 21 b/w illustrations
Aliens live among us. Thousands of species of nonnative flora and fauna have taken up residence within U.S. borders. America's lawns sprout African grasses, their roadsides flower with European weeds, and their homes harbour Asian, European, and African pests. Misguided enthusiasts deliberately introduced carp, kudzu, and starlings. And the American cowboy spread such alien life forms as cows, horses, tumbleweed, and anthrax, supplanting and supplementing the often unexpected ways Native Americans influenced the environment. Aliens in the Backyard recounts the origins and impacts of these and other nonindigenous species on the environment and pays overdue tribute to the resolve of nature to survive in the face of challenge and change.
"Aliens in the Backyard takes readers on a fine ramble through the fact and fiction, lore and legend of introduced species, covering everything from the boll weevil to the ailanthus tree, accidental and deliberate introductions, and species that came by themselves. Leland's account contains solid biological information but also odd facts and curious consequences that should have readers turning the pages and, once they finish, looking at the plants and animals around them with a new understanding."
– Thomas R. Dunlap, author of Saving America's Wildlife: Ecology and the American Mind, 1850-1990
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John Leland (Lexington, VA) teaches English at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. Author of Porcher's Creek: Lives between the Tides: a natural history of a South Carolina waterway and a memoir of his childhood there.