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
- Meet the very good dogs who hunt down invasive species on November 18, 2017 at 7:58 am
Lily is a golden retriever from Georgia. Seamus is a border collie from Montana. Together, they are leading a Working Dogs for Conservation team to eradicate an invasive weed from Mount Sentinel in Missoula, Montana. Before the team of dogs took over ... […]
- Stubbs continues weed education at 2017 NWCA Fall Training on November 17, 2017 at 10:03 pm
The theme was “Year In Review.” Presentations included: Harlan Reservoir’s Invasive Weed Control Story, Tom Zikmund, Army Corps; Twin Valley Weed Management Area Update, Merle Illian, TVWMA coordinator; Winterizing Equipment, Sara Sivits, Dawson ... […]
- Lancaster County has a new No. 1 when it comes to noxious weeds on November 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm
Last week, a Lincoln woman brought in a plant that seemed to be taking over an area behind her house in north Lincoln to the county’s weed authority office for identification. It was phragmites, one of the state’s 12 noxious weeds, and a growing ... […]
- Gardening goats on November 17, 2017 at 1:15 pm
The goats are used to eat noxious weeds and poisonous plants like hemlock, poison oak, pampas grass and much more. It is a completely eco-friendly method and is better for the soil than killing weeds with chemicals. "Everything that comes out of them if ... […]
- Minnesota DNR ends invasive-species grants to local groups, citing budget crunch on November 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm
DULUTH, Minn. — Even as zebra mussels, starry stonewort weed and giant Asian carp invade more of Minnesota’s waterways, the state Department of Natural Resources is eliminating aquatic invasive-species grants to local groups due to a budget shortfall. […]
- Cats claw creeper brings biocontrol bugs to battle an invasive weed that is all but impossible to kill on November 14, 2017 at 5:17 pm
South American beetles and bugs are being used as biocontrols in the battle against a serious environmental weed that is spreading through coastal Queensland and New South Wales. The cats claw creeper was introduced to Australia as an ornamental plant and ... […]
- How to Avoid Weed-Filled Wildflower Mixes on November 13, 2017 at 6:30 am
A wildflower mix was the source of an Oregon infestation of Paterson’s curse (Echium plantagineum), an exotic noxious weed native to the Mediterranean. This drought-tolerant plant is poisonous to grazing animals and can produce skin irritation and hay ... […]
- USDA backs off from regulating GMOs as weeds on November 9, 2017 at 10:24 am
The USDA has again backed away from regulating genetically engineered crops as potential noxious weeds, 17 years after gaining the legal authority to do so. Congress originally granted USDA the power to evaluate and possibly restrict genetically engineered ... […]
- Wyden, Merkley urge full funding for invasive weed program on November 8, 2017 at 10:57 pm
WASHINGTON - Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley urged federal officials Wednesday to provide full funding for a successful 40-year program that conserves and restores healthy landscapes and waterways threatened by invasive weeds. The Oregon senators ... […]
- Hopatcong fishes for weed problem solution on November 7, 2017 at 6:14 pm
"It's a very residential lakefront with a lot of boat traffic and smaller coves. They have been dealing with the same invasive plant life -- an aquatic weed called Eurasian Watermilfoil -- that we have. When we went to see Candlewood Lake, they took us out ... […]
via Google News and Bing News