March 24, 2013

Invasive weeds are more than a nuisance

Stiltgrass takes over a trail
My personal vendetta is against the lowly microstegium, or as it is commonly called Japanese stiltgrass. It caught a ride into the U.S. on Japanese cargo ships many decades ago and now covers huge areas along the East Coast. It gets established in disturbed soil very easily too, as in the trails near me. Chiggers love to hide out in it too, so be warned!

Other invasive species tag along in fishing boats. So what is the big deal? Once invasive species arrive in their new location, they begin multiplying, and in some cases, overpowering the native plants. They literally choke them out.

True, some invasives are harmless. But not the ones in my backyard. I resist using herbicides, but I had to resort to Roundup to get rid of stilt grass. And it took seven years because the seeds are so prolific. Pulling up the plants was not sufficient.

Now if only some clever scientist could produce biofuel from kudzu vines.

Another promising idea to produce biofuel and control an invasive underwater plant, hydrilla, was floated [parden the pun] a while back to reduce the huge amounts of hydrilla that grow locally in James City County's Diascund Reservoir and the Chickahominy River. This waterweed blocks intakes on powerboat motors and is a bane to the homeowners nearby. It is not especially helpful to the water quality either. It was hoped that this pesky weed could be a source of biofuel. But federal and state permits were a major barrier, and the project is dead in the water [sorry again].

3-28-13 UPDATE: About 1000 hungry sterile carp (at least we hope they are sterile) have been introduced to the Diascund Reservoir to eat down the hydrilla and keep it under control. Keep your fingers crossed that it works.