University of Rhode Island entomologists reached a milestone in their efforts to control the invasive weed swallow-wort this month with the first release of a biological agent to fight the pest.
Last week, the URI scientists, led by Professor Richard Casagrande and Research Associate Lisa Tewksbury, sent 500 larvae of the moth Hypena opulenta to partners in Canada for release in patches of swallow-wort near Ottawa.
“Swallow-wort is an aggressive invasive perennial weed that forms dense patches in a wide variety of habitats and may have negative impacts on monarch butterfly populations,” said Casagrande. “But we believe that this moth has potential for keeping the weed in check.”
In 2006, URI doctoral student Aaron Weed discovered the moth larvae feeding on swallow-worts in southern Ukraine. He brought the larvae to partners at the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau International (CABI) in Switzerland for rearing and initial testing. Research on the biology, impact, and host range of these insects was conducted at CABI and in the URI Insect Quarantine Laboratory over the next six years by Weed, now a postdoctoral researcher at Dartmouth College, and a second URI graduate student, Alex Hazlehurst.
After finding that the moth larvae will only attack and survive on swallow-worts, the URI scientists and colleagues in Canada and Switzerland petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2012 to allow field release of this biological agent in North America. The review panel recommended it for USDA approval on September 4, 2013. The USDA has additional steps in its approval process before the agent can be released in the United States next spring, but the Canadian government granted permission for immediate release.
The URI team sent larvae to partners at Canada Agriculture late last week for the first release. According to Naomi Cappuccino of Carleton University, the release appeared successful and larvae were already pupating in preparation for the Canadian winter.
Pale and black swallow-wort were accidentally introduced into the United States from Europe over a century ago and have since spread throughout the Northeast and well into Canada and the Midwest. These toxic vining plants are major pasture pests and serious weeds in many agricultural, ornamental, and forest environments. In addition to their invasiveness, swallow-worts are closely related to milkweeds and threaten monarch butterfly populations. Monarchs readily lay eggs on swallow-worts, but all larvae that hatch on the plant perish.
“We believe that swallow-worts are particularly problematic in North America because they left all their natural enemies behind in Europe, and indeed, several European insects attack these plants in their native range,” said Casagrande. “In addition to the moth just released, a second moth with populations found from Finland to Ukraine is under evaluation in our quarantine laboratory.”
These agents will be compared with a related species under study by USDA scientists to select the next best species if there is need for further releases.
The Latest on: Invasive weed
- Kerikeri High School students take war against invasive weed to the world on November 13, 2018 at 12:00 pm
The Tradescantia Terminators — a group of Kerikeri High School students who have already won accolades for their work ridding a bush walkway of tradescantia, also known as wandering jew or wandering w... […]
- Mystery machine chomps away at weeds in Golden Gate Park on November 13, 2018 at 11:40 am
SAN FRANCISCO – The Aquamog may sound like the moniker of a comic book swamp monster, but it’s actually a vehicle that arrived at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park this month to chomp away at invasive ... […]
- Golden Bay weed whackers wage war on pesky, invasive plants on November 13, 2018 at 11:07 am
Pest plants such as old man's beard and banana passion vine were targeted by weed busters in the third working bee in Golden Bay's Ligar Bay. The event last weeekend was to help the owners of properti... […]
- Scientists warned this weed killer would destroy crops. EPA approved it anyway on November 13, 2018 at 5:05 am
The seeds – which the company engineered so that farmers could use dicamba to kill invasive weeds without hurting their crops – were worth $3 billion last year. Issues with dicamba began to emerge und... […]
- Is the ‘Empress Tree’ a tree or a weed? on November 12, 2018 at 9:47 am
This, together with seeds released by specimens deliberately planted for ornament, has allowed the species to become an invasive weed tree in some areas of the U.S. Like most fast-growing trees, Paulo... […]
- Applications sought for Noxious Weed Management grants on November 12, 2018 at 9:08 am
The Colorado Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for 2019 Noxious Weed Management grants. This year, the department plans to award $700,000 in grant funds to organizations and asso... […]
- What’s in a name? Milkweed no longer a ‘noxious weed’ in Godfrey on November 11, 2018 at 10:28 am
GODFREY — Milkweed will no longer be classified as a “noxious weed” in the village of Godfrey, after an ordinance amending the definitions of weeds was approved by the Village Board Wednesday. The iss... […]
- CDA offers noxious weed grants on November 9, 2018 at 10:01 am
The Colorado Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for 2019 noxious weed management grants. Steve Ryder, CDA's state weed coordinator, said CDA plans to award $700,000 in grant funds to ... […]
- Russell lupin: iconic to Mackenzie Country or invasive weed? on November 7, 2018 at 7:24 pm
Land owners could face legal action if they fail to manage a pest that has also been identified as "iconic" to the Mackenzie Country. The Russell lupin is often loved by tourists for its colour and co... […]
- Good response to NRC exotic fish, water-weed survey on November 6, 2018 at 12:24 pm
Biodiversity experts are pleased with the public response to a survey that will help steer future management options for invasive weeds and exotic fish in Northland’s lakes, ponds and dams. The Northl... […]
via Google News and Bing News