Monday, June 20, 2011

Organic Invasive Control in Connecticut

Donna Ellis releasing Weevils (photo credit Helen Neafsey / Greenwich Times)

A joint project between the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and state Department of Environmental Protection is testing weevils as invasive control for mile-a-minute-vine.  Mile-a-minute has been a pesky invasive for the western regions of Connecticut, earning its name from its fast growth (up to 6 inches on a hot summer day).  Mile a minute wraps around trees and grows over plants, reducing the light their leaves can absorb allowing the vine to overtake native vegetation.  It was first discovered in Greenwich and is pervasive throughout Fairfield County, but only spread to eastern Connecticut last summer.  A total of 5,000 weevils have been dispersed around the state through this program. Weevils are effective at killing the vine because they feed on the leaves of the vine and then lay eggs inside the plant causing it to collapse.  They also are thought to be species specific, which means the weevils will eat and destroy only the mile-a-minute vine but natural vegetation will be unaffected.  They must be reintroduced every year because weevils cannot survive Connecticut winters.  Donna Ellis, co-chair  of the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group and a member of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Plant Science, who has been working spreading weevils around the state, is also co-teaching one of NOFA’s summer organic land care workshops titled Organic Invasive Removal and Control on July 8.  If you’re interested in organic removal of invasive plants you can check out NOFA’s Organic Land Care site for resources or to register for the workshop in Bridgeport!

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