Monday, September 30, 2002

Invading a video screen near you

Mark your calendar for October 15th, from 1pm-4pm ET; you don't want to miss the Federal Highway Administration's teleconference, "Invasive Species in Transportation Rights of Way:"You Wouldn't Plant Kudzu, Would You?" ." The conference will feature panel discussions about the role of interstate highways in the spread of invasive plants, and programs that have been implemented to hinder that spread. If you can't make it to one of the program's broadcast sites, you can watch it live on the web.

Thanks to a member of the Yahoo! group ma-eppc for posting information about the conference.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Soy is Good

Been hankering to rid your land of nasty invasive plants, but worried about losing your nice layer of topsoil to erosion after the weeds are gone? Well, why not help yourself to a nice crop of GMO soybeans (Glycine max)? In what may be the most interesting application of GMO plants so far, the Nature Conservancy is letting farmers plant crops of Roundup-resistant soybeans on prairieland in Minnesota that is infested with invasive plants. When the crop is harvested, the weeds are gone, and what's left of the soybeans can be plowed under. The site is then reseeded with native prairie grasses. Boulder, Colorado is considering the same project for their own parks, according to this article from The Daily Camera. This is especially interesting given the number of states and countries that have rejected growing the soybeans for agricultural purposes. Soybean is considered to be an invasive species itself in some parts of North America.

Thanks to blahstuff for linking to the Daily Camera article.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Patrolling for Perch

The White Perch (Morone americana) is on its way to Lake Winnebago (perhaps for a vacay?), according to this article from the Wisconsin Post-Crescent. Scientists have found several young perch upstream from the lake, and expect the fish to continue their path upriver. The perch will likely be used as evidence of the dangers of introducing invasive species in the ongoing battle against Wisconsin state officials, who have made plans to open up locks on the Fox River to allow boat traffic through. White perch are native to the Atlantic Coast of the U.S., but have worked their way inland via human-built canals.

Friday, September 27, 2002

That's Entertainment

To successfully fight the spread of invasive species, we need to better educate the general public. That's the slant of this article from, which features quotes from panelists speaking to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Panelists recommended education would be most effective if done in an entertaining way. Prime candidates for disseminating information in this manner include public aquariums.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Aussie WeedBusters Week

If you're in Australia October 13-20, be sure to check out the activities for the 9th annual Weedbusters Week. The event aims to raise public awareness about weeds and the role people can play in preventing weed spread. Maybe if you're lucky, you'll see Woody Weed. If you can't make it to any of the plant identification or weed-pulling sessions, you can visit the web site to download posters and information about educational activities.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002


If you're near Blythewood, South Carolina this weekend, be sure to stop by the 27th annual Blythewood Kudzu Festival. They've got more uses for Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) than you could ever imagine, from clothing to baskets to yummy jams and sandwiches. It is great to see the folks in Blythewood making lemonade from a hefty crop of lemons. But before you decide to get some Kudzu to start your own local festival, remember that this invasive vine is on the U.S. Federal Noxious Weed list, and is also banned in many states.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Milfoil in Lake Cochituate

Seems Lake Cochituate, a large lake in eastern Massachusetts, is in danger of being taken over by Eurasian Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), according to this article from the Framingham Tab. The article reports on the installation of vegetation barriers that officials are hoping will keep the milfoil out of at least part of the lake, and mentions the state's reluctance to combat the problem with herbicide application, since the lake is close to a drinking water supply. There are also several good examples of what other towns in the region have done to battle this pervasive aquatic weed.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Maybe it's the Mussels

Researchers are concerned about the appearance of a "dead zone" covering about one-third of Lake Erie, according to this article in The Marion Star. The dead zone, a low-oxygen area of the lake in which fish cannot survive, appeared in the late 1990s, after years of improvement in water quality in this once heavily polluted Great Lake. The primary suspect at this point is the Quagga Mussel (Dreissena bugensis), a European native that is closely related to the Zebra Mussel (D. polymorpha). Quagga mussels have been known in the Great Lakes since the 1990s, and can cause problems by digesting organic material from the lake bottom while releasing phosphorus. The phosphorus contributes to algal growth, which can severely deplete dissolved oxygen levels in the water. Other potential contributors to the problem include increased sewage and agricultural runoff, and a drop in lake water levels.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Loosestrife Lover

Blasphemy? Perhaps. But not everyone thinks of Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) as the scourge of American wetlands. As this article from the Times Herald-Record in New York demonstrates, some researchers consider it a species with wildlife value, and do not concur with claims that it crowds out native wetland plants. I think it is likely that the honeybee and ladybug mentioned as inhabiting the loosestrife that was "teeming with life" are not native either.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

NISA, Make way for the NAISA

The National Invasive Species Act (NISA), introduced in 1996, is set to end September 30th. In its place, lawmakers are offering the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act (NAISA), along with additional legislation on more general invasive species research. You can read a press release about it, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Learning About Loosestrife

You can now earn college credits studying the invasive plant Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is offering an online course, geared towards high school and middle school teachers, beginning this October. Since the course is online, you do not have to be in Illinois to benefit!

(Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting information about this topic.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Good Neighbors

It seems with all the furor that erupted over the spread of fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) through the U.S., an associated invasive species was being overlooked. According to ScienceDaily, scientists at Texas A&M University have reported that the Rhodesgrass Mealybug (Antonina graminis) was discovered living in association with fire ants, and in fact were provided lodging, along with an aphid species, in "shelters" built by the ants nearby their own mounds. More research needs to be done to explain exactly why the ants sometimes build these shelters, but it is obvious that they do have a symbiotic relationship with the mealybugs. You can read the abstract for this study, published in this month's Ecology.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Really Wild Jamaican Coffee

The Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN), which just recently met in Jamaica, has made it a priority to support information exchange on invasive species topics between all American countries. One topic discussed was the effect of wild coffee plants on the indigenous flora of Jamaica (I am unsure what species is referred to here, since "wild coffee" is used to describe more than one genera). Until the IABIN updates their website with the most current information about the forum, you can read this article from the Jamaica Observer.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Buy Something, You'll Feel Better Invasive Woody Plants Ceramic Tile

Announcing the first in a series of products designed to spread the word about invasive plants. Using a great free service from, I have designed a ceramic tile featuring four "Invasive Woody Species of America." You can purchase this limited edition tile/coaster here. There will be more tiles offered in the coming months, and in the near future I will be debuting several other items for your buying pleasure. Any profits made from the sale of these items will go towards increasing public awareness of invasive species issues.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Eating Autumn Olive

Why let those Autumn Olive fruits (Elaeagnus umbellata) go to the birds? If you're thinking of trying to stem the wave of Autumn Olive seedlings in your town, below are a couple of recipes that call for those juicy, red fruits! (Feel free to send samples.) There are even possible cancer-fighting benefits to consuming them, because they contain large quantities of the antioxidant lycopene. For those of you having problems with full-grown trees, the roots make lovely walking sticks.

Update 10/2004: Those of you interested in eating your way out of the invasive plant problem may want to check out "Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten," a book by Russ Cohen. It features chapters about several common invaders, including autumn olive and Japanese knotweed.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Russian Olive Revealed
Photo of Russian Olive Photo
Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)

Now that the growing season is over, I think I've finally figured out how to tell the difference between Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) and Russian Olive (E. angustifolia). Of course, it's pretty easy right now, since Russian Olive has yellow, mealy fruits, while Autumn Olive has juicy, red fruits (See photos above). If I hadn't recently found a Russian Olive right near campus, I'd probably still be wondering. I'll have to see if I can use the facts that Russian Olive has longer, thinner, more silvery leaves, as well as much more prominent thorns, to tell the two species apart next spring.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Weed Free Feed

I just ran across a really interesting website called "Weed Free Feed." It aims to educate everyone, but specifically horseowners, about the prevention of invasive weeds on public lands. Animal forage (hay, straw, etc.), mulch, and places where feed grain is stored can all be certified as weed free in California, and the WFF Working Group hopes that soon every horse owner will request it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Let your Phreak Phrag Fly

Ever since you found out that there were both native and introduced types of Common Reed (Phragmites australis), you have been dying to know if that patch in your backyard is a foreign invader, haven't you? Well, now here's your chance: The Phragmites Diagnostic Service at Cornell University is offering to test your sample for free! If you have several samples that you want to have tested, you have to pre-register, but it's still free! Or you could do what I'm going to try to do, which is identify native stands of Phrag using this handy guide.

Thanks to a member of the Yahoo! group ma-eppc for posting information about this project.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Salt vs. Weeds

Here's a little blurb, from ABC News Australia (I doubt this story will appear on the U.S, news sites), about the 13th annual Australian Weed Conference, going on right now in Perth. It's got a quote from Dr. Rick Roush, pointing out that with all the money spent to combat salinity problems in agriculture, little is given to fight weeds, which are at least as big of a problem.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Let's Talk Bugs

The Entomological Society of Ontario has scheduled their annual meeting from October 18-20, 2002. The topic this year is "Invasive Species and Biodiversity," so if you're interested and will be in the area, or if you want to submit a paper or poster, go here.

(Thanks to a member of the ALIENS-L listserver for posting information about this meeting.)

Sunday, September 08, 2002

101 Dalmatian Toadflaxes

Seems that Lake Tahoe, California is having problems with the invasive Mediterranean plant Dalmation Toadflax (Linaria dalmatica). According to this article from KCRA Channel 3's web site, the invasion has already progressed to the point where it will take at least 3 years to eradicate the plant from the area. A invasive Knapweed (species was not named in the article) has also raised the concerns of scientists after it was found in the area.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

Knotty Paper

The Sheffield Wildlife Trust in England has found a great use for the invasive plant Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica). According to this article in The Independent, they're going to make into paper pots and pot liners to grow other plants. I'm going to have to get the recipe for this!

Friday, September 06, 2002

Hating Hyacinth

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is threatening to take over Lake Victoria...again. It seems that the contract between the Kenyan government and the company in charge of water hyacinth control expired, according to this story at Now that the company's control measures, which consisted of harvesting the plants and shredding them, have ceased, the plants are once more clogging irrigation canals, crowding the lake edge, and blocking passageways on the lake. Maybe they should just start making more furniture.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

More on Forest Pests

For those of you who were interested in Tuesday's blog entry about forest pests, get more information straight from the source: Read Faith Campbell and Scott Schlarbaum's report, "Fading Forest II," an update to the original report released in the mid-1990s (link goes to a large Adobe Acrobat .pdf file).

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

In Control

From ScienceDaily comes this press release about the work of Dr. James Parkhurst from Virginia Tech. Dr. Parkhurst is interested in finding ways for the general public to control invasive non-native plants without harming the environment. His suggestions include public education about invasive plants, and increasing the availability (and decreasing the cost) of native plants for sale in nurseries. You can read the original press release here, and learn more about James Parkhurst's work here.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Weird that I forgot to put a title on this until Thursday...

This decent article from U.S. News & World Report describes the problems caused by non-native forest pests that attack trees. There's a little bit about the acoustic detection system being used to find Asian longhorned beetle larvae (Anoplophora glabripennis) boring inside trees; you can find more detailed information about that here. More important is the section of the article describing the lack of manpower, funding, and legislation that keeps the U.S. from properly monitoring the importation of items packed in materials that can contain dangerous pests.

Monday, September 02, 2002

Cutting the Cord Grass

Researchers in the U.K. are trying to combat Cord grass (Spartina anglica) invasion in the Lindisfarne reserve on the Northumbrian coastline, according to this article in The Journal. To gain the upper hand, they are tilling the grass 8 inches under the soil. Over 250 acres of land have been taken over by the Cord grass, which was originally planted there intentionally to prevent soil erosion. The construction of a causeway altered the affects of the tide and created conditions that were ideal for Cord grass invasion. S. anglica is the offspring of a hybrid, which is the offspring itself of the native English S. maritima and the American S. alterniflora.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

Weed Summit?

Too bad President Bush is skipping the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development. According to this article from the Baltimore Sun, he'll miss out on meeting Thabo Ntisana from South Africa's Working for Water program. Working for Water has many projects focusing on the management and eradication of invasive plants, as well as a great web site detailing those projects and offering resources to concerned members of the general public.