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Waging Battle Against Invasive Species in Middlefield

Students at Independent Day School helped release an estimated 1,200 weevils this week in an effort to eliminate the Mile-a-minute vine found in the yard of Middlefield resident Ellen Waff.

 

There's an epic battle being waged in Middlefield.

On Thursday, students from Independent Day School released hundreds of weevils in hopes that the tiny insect will devour an invasive plant known as the Mile-a-minute vine.

The prickly vine is growing in the yard of Laurel Brook Road resident Ellen Waff, who first spotted the invader on her property a couple of years ago.

"This stuff has really taken off in three years. Once it gets going its impossible to remove," said Waff.

First reported in Greenwich in 1997, the weed native to Eastern Asia continues to spread througout the state, according to Logan Senack, Invasive Plant Coordinator at the University of Connecticut.

And it's easy to see why.

"It's an annual, and it's very fast growing. The higest reported growth rate is six inches in a day. It grows so densly that it will shade out other vegetation," Senack said.

Homeowners can identify the Mile-a-minute vine by its three main characteristics: triangular leaves, small barbs that help it spread and saucer-shaped leaves at the nodes of the plant.

See photos to be able to identify the Mile-a-minute vine

There are no natural predators of the Mile-a-minute vine in the United States, allowing it to grow unfettered. The weevils, also from Eastern Asia, are voracious however.

"They only can eat and breed on this plant," said Senack. "Over time, maybe 2-5 years, we'll see a gradual decrease in the Mile-a-mine and a gradual increase in the weevil."

While efforts to eliminate the invasive plant throughout Connecticut are being led by UConn and the Ag Experiment Station in New Haven, homeowners like Waff play the most important role.

"It really takes the people on the ground, who know their land to look out for these plants," said Senack.

A website has been created where homeowners can report the discovery of the invasive plant.

For more information on invasive species in Connecticut, residents are encouraged to attend an October 25 symposium hosted by the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG).

Diane St John September 01, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I had no idea the mile-a-minute vine was here in our area already! Kudos to Ellen for spotting it! It is really great to see that young students are learning about this and why it is so important to control these invasive species. I walk my 2 acres often and have been clearing it of any invasives I find. I know the kindergarteners here in District 13 learn about barberry, burning bush and the norway maple (all still for sale at many garden centers!) and how it takes over our woods. This is how we change things--teach the kids!
Carol Schweitzer-Schilling September 01, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Just a thought...........what eats weevils?
Ellen Waff September 01, 2012 at 03:30 PM
What scares me is that the weevils <cue ominous music> are from China!
Diane St John September 01, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Hopefully-fingers crossed- the scientists who have studied this weevil know what they are doing and are not bringing us another bad bug!
Michael Hayes (Editor) September 01, 2012 at 04:24 PM
The folks at UConn said they'd been intensely studied, so I think its safe to assume...
Carol Schweitzer-Schilling September 01, 2012 at 07:07 PM
There Was An Old Woman There was an old woman who swallowed a fly, I don't know why she swallowed a fly, Perhaps she'll die. There was an old woman who swallowed a spider, That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her, She swallowed the spider to catch the fly, I don't know why she swallowed the fly, Perhaps she'll die. There was an old woman who swallowed a bird, How absurd! to swallow a bird, She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her, She swallowed the spider to catch the fly, I don't know why she swallowed the fly, Perhaps she'll die. I could not resist, because even the old woman intensely studied the effects too! You are a good sport Editor Hayes!
Alison Perrin September 01, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Let's outlaw bamboo too!
Karen J. Keating September 02, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Goats have been used to eat it and destroy the plant AND the roots.

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