Monday, August 25, 2008

Week of August 24, 2008

Updated 8/28

Beetles unleashed on invasive plants at Berks County lake, PA

By Alyssa Owens
Reading Eagle

To the casual observer, purple loosestrife is a striking flower. In full bloom, patches of the wetland plant tint entire marshes with its vibrant hue. But the flower's beauty is deceptive.

Purple loosestrife, declared "Public Enemy No. 1" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is an invasive foreign weed that muscles in on native plants and disrupts ecosystems.

So when loosestrife proliferated on the eastern banks of Lake Ontelaunee, Michael J. Reider, the Reading Area Water Authority's watershed manager, considered battling it with another alien: Galerucella calmariensis, a European beetle.

Biological controls, the importation of exotic natural enemies to combat invasive alien plants and insects, are becoming a popular weapon in the arsenal used against invasive species, said Mark Mayers, head entomologist at the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Laboratory in West Trenton, New Jersey, which sells the beetles and other beneficial bugs. Article


Worcester beetle battle begins

The Associated Press

WORCESTER, Mass.— The Worcester beetle hunt is on.

Federal and state inspectors are scheduled on Monday to begin combing two city neighborhoods to identify every tree infested by the invasive Asian longhorned beetle.

City Manager Michael O'Brien says the process is expected to take about three weeks.

Six two-person will check every susceptible hardwood tree in the Greendale and Great Brook Valley neighborhoods.

The black and white insects, native to China, bore dime-sized holes in hardwood trees, eventually killing them.

Worcester is just the fourth area in the country where they have been found. Experts think the insects arrived in the U.S. in shipping pallets from China. Article


Waterway warriors

Fans turn out to rid their beloved Nashua River of invasive plant

By John Dyer
Boston Globe Correspondent

For years, avid duck hunter Doug Conner watched as water chestnuts slowly but surely spread throughout his beloved Nashua River, Mass. The invasive plant resembles a lily pad, but grows thick enough to clog acres of open water with dense leaves and underwater tendrils that choke out native flora and fauna.

Now Conner and others are getting their hands dirty to stop the spread of water chestnuts, which state environmental officials have identified as one of their top concerns in Boston-area waterways. Last Sunday, local conservationists organized a water chestnut "pull," when around 40 volunteers took to the Nashua to yank tons of plants from its calm waters.

The pull was designed to remove water chestnuts from areas of the river too shallow for tractor-sized, floating harvesting machines to enter. Using a $300,000 state grant secured by area legislators, the Groton-based Nashua River Watershed Association contracted this summer with Aquatic Control Technology of Sutton to conduct the mechanical harvesting.

The mechanical harvester and hand pull are expected to remove around 450 tons of water chestnuts from 45 acres of the river in the next few weeks, said Martha Morgan, NRWA water programs director. Article


Asian longhorn beetle feared in CT

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station said Tuesday that the feared Asian longhorn beetle might be in Connecticut, and residents are urged to be on the lookout for the invasive tree-killing insect.

The glossy black beetle with white spots kills a variety of healthy hardwood trees, such as maples, birches, willows and horsechestnuts. "If established, the beetle would cause severe environmental and aesthetic damage to our urban trees, forests and parks," said Kirby C. Stafford III, the state entomologist.

He said that the ALB has been present in Queens and Brooklyn, N.Y., and northern New Jersey for years, but the destructive insect has been spotted in Worcester, Mass., recently. Article


Nile monitors adapt well in Florida

Margaret Lowman

Beginning in 2003, a series of signs posted throughout Cape Coral have depicted this headline: Have you seen one of these? An ugly, warty-skinned, long-tailed, hulking Nile Monitor lizard was draped across the notice that described one of Florida's newest invasive reptiles. Enlisting public vigilance to report invasive species is difficult, if not impossible, unless the critters are closer in size to Godzilla. But Floridians are waking up to the cost, energy, devastation and fear factor with regard to some of our recent invasions.

Monitors were introduced accidentally from Africa by frustrated pet owners, who thought they were purchasing a docile and handsome lizard, only to rear an aggressive, ornery-tempered dragonlike beast. Nile monitors were first described by the famous taxonomist, Carl Linnaeus in 1766 as Lacerta monitor. Today, one species of monitor (scientific name Varanus niloticus) is populating Southwest Florida. This species grows up to 7 feet long and can weigh over 50 pounds.

Unfortunately for Floridians, Nile monitors are extremely adaptable, and enjoy a wide range of habitats including forest, savannah, woodland, bush land, thickets, scrub, swamps, mangroves, lakes and rivers. Their only major requirement is water. Since invading Florida, they have also adapted to rooftops, swimming pools, embankments, streets, walls, yards, and roadways. Article


Mad Gardeners battle mile-a-minute

Robert Miller,

NEW MILFORD, CONN. -- In a brambly patch of open space off Larson Road, the Band of Five worked its way past the multiflora rose thorns, and the clutches of bindweed, into the dry rattling thickets of phragmites.

Then, there it was -- the green mound of vegetation growing thicker and higher daily.

The five went to work with abandon, tearing the mound down, denuding the spot of mile-a-minute vine.

"It usually grows along the edges of things," said Kathleen Nelson of Mad Gardeners Inc., which is leading the fight against the vine in Litchfield County. "But really, it likes any sunny area."

Mile-a-minute is a non-native, invasive species that has hit Connecticut. It has the potential to smother the landscape, growing six inches a day. And while cold weather kills it each year, each plant can throw off hundreds of bright blue seeds, allowing it to regenerate itself in greater numbers in the following year.

The hope of groups like Mad Gardeners is this: by trying to find mile-a-minute and pull it up now, they may at least slow its spread around the state.

Mad Gardeners got grants in 2007 to hire interns to pull up the vines wherever they were growing. This year, relying on private donations, it had four summer staffers: Bre Anderson, 19, of New Fairfield; Eric Andruk, 20, of New Fairfield; Willie Mandeville, 18, of Sherman; and Terry Purcell, 27, of New Milford. Article

Visit the Mad Gardeners website at .


The worst milfoil infestation in New Hampshire

By Stephen Beale -

An aquatic weed that makes swimming dangerous, boating difficult and diminishes other animal and plant life in the water has taken over half of Namaske Lake in Pinardville, according to a state official.

Amy Smagula, a limnologist and exotic species program coordinator for the Department of Environmental Services, said the lake has become the worst case of milfoil infestation in New Hampshire, because of the density of the milfoil, also known more formally by its scientific genus name of Myriophyllum. [Blogger's note: I believe they're talking about M. heterophyllum.]

About half of the 194-acre Namaske Lake is coated with the aggressive weed, which is native to the United States, but not New England, according to Smagula.

Smagula said the milfoil, which generally is found in shallower areas, has grown to the maximum extent possible in the lake, which exists where the Piscataquog River backs up to the Kelley Falls Dam. The large body of water was named “Namaske Lake” just this year by an act of the state Legislature.

Last month, Michael Allard formed the Namaske Lake Association to tackle the milfoil problem. The association has been working on an application for a state grant for a herbicide treatment of the milfoil early next summer. Smagula estimated it would cost between $50,000 and $90,000. The state, she said, could afford to pay for half.

Some towns, she said, have used conservation funds for the purpose. Others have annual warrant articles that replenish a standing milfoil fund. It is possible the town could get a Moose Plate grant, which is for conservation projects, from the state, according to Smagula.

After the initial treatment next year, the town would have to follow up with smaller-scale antimilfoil activities every three to five years. Article

For more information, visit


Great Moose Lake opts for early milfoil survey

By Sharon Kiley Mack -

HARTLAND, Maine — Rather than wait for an infestation of milfoil or any other invasive water weed, members of the Great Moose Lake Association have decided to opt for an ounce of prevention, hoping to avoid a pound of cure.

Using membership dues and funds gathered by selling GMLA hats and sweatshirts, the group has hired a couple of experts who literally immersed themselves in their work Wednesday.

Slipping beneath the lake’s waves, underwater diver Jackey Bailey did a careful inch by inch survey of the weed population around the public boat launch. On the surface, Roberta Hill searched the shoreline using viewfinders that allowed her to see beneath the waterline. Both work for Lake and Watershed Resource Management Associates of Turner.

“This is a level one survey,” Hill explained, just before getting into her kayak. “Level one is the highest risk, simply because of the increased traffic here at the boat launch.” Before noon Wednesday, the launch was already filled with boat trailers from both in- and out-of-state boaters.

If milfoil and other invasives are caught early enough, lakes can be cleared, Hill said. Volunteers recently discovered a tiny fragment of milfoil in Salmon Lake in Belgrade, a fragment that was discovered because the volunteers had an inspection system in place.

If an invasive weed had been found, Hill said it would have been sent out for DNA testing. “We can only be 100 percent sure of identification if the plant is flowering,” she explained.

If the DNA confirms milfoil, the state has a rapid response plan. There will be immediate surveys of the water, a Department of Environmental Protection dive team will be dispatched within seven days and the invasive will be removed. Weekly monitoring then continues until no more invasives are found. Article


Monday, August 18, 2008

Week of August 17, 2008

Updated 8/21

Asian longhorned beetle makes it in Massachusetts

Walking the Berkshires Blog, by GreenmanTim

This past week, one of the worst of these pests jumped the fence from outbreaks on Long Island and in New jersey and is now in Central Massachusetts. Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) is confirmed in Worcester, Mass. Jennifer Foreman Orth of the Invasive Species Weblog is trying to deal with the outbreak in her day job. These beetles kill maple trees. Other preferred host tree species include Elms, Willows, Ash, Poplar... But sugar maple is the prime species at risk. Blog


Pond at North Carolina state park closed after thousands of fish die

GATESVILLE, N.C. — Tens of thousands of fish have died in a 760-acre pond in a state park, and officials are blaming an invasive aquatic plant species.

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reports that park superintendent Jay Greenwood said decaying parrot feather likely has depleted oxygen levels in the pond at Merchants Millpond State Park, suffocating about 125,000 bass, bluegill and catfish.

Greenwood says the pond is closed until further notice.

Twin aerators are to be installed in the pond to promote decomposition of the dead fish and restore oxygen levels for the remaining fish. Article


Pepperweed Patrol preventing northward spread of invasive plant

( - Portsmouth, NH - The New Hampshire Coastal Program at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed an innovative program designed to stop the spread of an invasive plant, perennial pepperweed ( Lepidium latifolium ), at the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border.

In the last decade, pepperweed has been found in salt marsh edges, along roadsides, and in drainage ditches in Newburyport, Massachusetts and the islands of Boston Harbor, and is spreading northward. Isolated populations have been located along the New Hampshire coast, but there is no knowledge of the presence of pepperweed in Maine. The goal of the Pepperweed Patrol Program is to prevent the northward encroachment of this non-native plant, limit its current geographic range and to preserve the New England coastal ecosystem.

The Pepperweed Patrol Program is working to prevent massive infestations by mobilizing an early detection-rapid response strategy, finding and removing small populations before they are allowed to grow. This summer, staff and volunteers identified two populations along the New Hampshire coast, one at Odiorne State Park in Rye and one at the Hampton Transfer station in Hampton. Volunteer weed pulls were organized to remove the populations.

Residents of the New Hampshire Seacoast are asked to be on the lookout for the plant. In July, the N.H. Coastal Program held identification trainings to aid locals in recognizing the plant, and has identification guides available.

For more information on this destructive plant, find our fact sheet online at If you would like more information on the Pepperweed Patrol Program or to report a sighting please call the N.H. Coastal Program at 559-1500 or email at

Read complete article

Resident alerts school to poisonous plant at playground

By Karen Dandurant,

GREENLAND, NH — When Sarah Linnehan found a poisonous plant growing in her yard, she went to check out her daughter’s school.

It was there, too. The plant by the playground has been removed from the grounds of Greenland Central School.

"We did have a poisonous plant but we removed it yesterday," said SAU50 Superintendent George Cushing." It was brought to our attention by a resident. Peter Smith (principal) went out and walked the grounds to make sure there were no others. We acted quickly and removed it from the roots."

The plant, a very invasive weed, is called climbing nightshade (Atropa belladonna). A spokesperson for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension confirmed that the plant has the potential to be deadly. Article


Sen. Susan Collins: Attack invasive lake species before they attack us

By Sen. Susan Collins, from an editorial at

Maine's lakes and ponds are under attack. Aquatic invasive species threaten our drinking water systems, recreation, wildlife habitat, lakefront real estate, and fisheries. Plants, such as Eurasian milfoil, are crowding out native species.

Maine was the last of the lower 48 states to be free of this plant, which forms stems reaching up to 20 feet high that cause fouling problems for swimmers and boaters, and degrades water quality by displacing native plants, fish and other aquatic species. There are now at least 28 documented cases of aquatic invasive species infesting Maine's lakes and ponds....

...While I am proud of the actions that Maine and many other states are taking to protect against invasive species, protecting our lakes, streams, and coastlines from invading species cannot be accomplished by individual states alone: a nationwide approach is required. The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act will help our state and states throughout the nation detect, prevent and respond to aquatic invasive species.

Our legislation offers the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken to meet this threat. Funded at $150 million per year, it would open numerous new fronts in our war against invasive species. The bill directs the Coast Guard to develop regulations that will end the easy cruise of invasive species into American waters through the ballast water of international ships, and would provide the Coast Guard with $6 million per year to implement these regulations.

The bill also would provide $30 million per year for a grant program to assist state efforts. It would provide additional funds for the Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service to contain and control invasive species.

The best way to stop invading species is to attack them before they attack us. We need an early alert, rapid response system. For the first time, our bill would establish a national monitoring network to detect invaders, while providing $25 million to the Department of the Interior to create a rapid response fund to help states and regions react quickly. Finally, the Levin-Collins bill would provide $30 million annually for research, education, and outreach.

Our ponds, lakes, and coastlines are invaluable to our quality of life and essential to our economy. The National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2007 offers strong protection that is long overdue. This legislation can help prevent the next wave of invasive species from destroying what is so precious here in Maine and throughout the country. Full Editorial


Monday, August 11, 2008

Week of August 10, 2008

Invasion New York

It's not your typical type of tourism.

But plants and insects end up paying unintended visits to New York City just like any other traveler.

There's one difference, though: These pesky species end up staying.

Grounding their roots, literally, in our soil, invasive species come from far and wide, via barge or souvenir-stuffed suitcases, in what horticulturists and biologists across the city call a serious threat to our habitat. Deceiving to the common eye, these foreign born pests and plants raise significant challenges for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation: monitoring, controlling and even eradicating top the list.

Though the city welcomes visitors from far and ride (foreign tourism, according to the Bloomberg administration, is what is fueling our economy right now), advocates and the parks department have another message for the relentless Asian Longhorned Beetle or the slimy, practically amphibious Snakehead Fish. Article


NH looks to stem migration of pepperweed

By Angeljean Chiaramida, Eagle-Tribune staff writer

SEABROOK — Fearing an invasion of pepperweed in proportion to its spread on Plum Island and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, New Hampshire environmental agencies are now working to prevent the invasive species before it takes hold in Granite State salt marshes.

Scientist worry that, if it goes uncontrolled, it could threaten the plant and animal species that make up the entire Great Marsh ecosystem.

"The reason we're concerned about this plant in particular is because, since its introduction to California in the 1930s, it has spread throughout most of the western states," said Catherine Foley of New Hampshire Costal Program, a division of the state Department of Environmental Services. "It is able to spread quickly due to its extensive root system and live in a wide range of habitats. Once pepperweed becomes established, it forms dense stands where nothing else is able to grow. These stands provide a very poor habitat to native species, especially water fowl."

If New Hampshire can stop pepperweed from becoming entrenched in its salt marsh, environmental experts believe it may stop it from spreading north into Maine.

The use of volunteers is pivotal in the state's early detection and rapid response program... The state is recruiting and training volunteers to map, monitor and pull pepperweed if found in the salt marsh along New Hampshire's coastline.

Volunteers are trained then go out in the field looking for pepperweed, reporting back, and mapping the infected areas. When found, pepperweed populations are hand-pulled by volunteers and monitored both before and after eradication.

For more information on pepperweed, the state's programs or to volunteer, contact Foley at 50 International Drive, Suite 200, Portsmouth, NH 03801, 603-559-0028 or



New National Invasive Species Management Plan

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne convened the National Invasive Species Council (NISC), on August 1, to oversee the adoption of the new 2008-2012 National Invasive Species Management Plan. The plan was developed collaboratively with 13 federal departments and agencies and their partners.

Federal expenditures on invasive species are estimated to exceed $1.3 billion annually. The plan is the culmination of an extensive process of expert review, and public comment. It can be found on


Maine DEP removes Eurasian milfoil from Salmon Lake

BY AMY CALDER, staff writer, Morning Sentinal

NORTH BELGRADE -- Divers on Friday scoured the bottom of Salmon Lake, yanking a new and aggressive, invasive-plant species from a cove off Route 8.

In just more than two hours Friday morning, they had bagged more than 70 Eurasian milfoil plants and were expecting to spend the day collecting more.

Since the species was discovered in the lake Aug. 1, the state has launched an ambitious program to find and eradicate it.

"It's the pit bull of milfoil," said Paul Gregory, with the state Department of Environmental Protection, which was conducting Friday's eradication.

Gregory was one of four people working in a driving rain and stubborn wind to eradicate the Eurasian milfoil, which has been found only at one other site in Maine -- a Scarborough gravel pit.

Of 5,700 ponds and lakes in Maine, only 29 contain an invasive, aquatic-plant species, but the Eurasian milfoil is of particular concern because it is more aggressive than other species such as the variable-leaf milfoil found in Messalonskee Lake.

DEP biologist John McPhedran and Denise Blanchette, a diver contracting with DEP, pulled Eurasian milfoil plants and their root balls from Salmon Lake Friday, placed them in netted bags and sent them to the surface. Gregory and DEP biologist Ray Bouchard hauled the bags into boats.

"It sounds primitive, but hand removal is a very effective method," Gregory said. "We're going to give it our best." The milfoil collected Friday would likely be composted, he said.

Milfoil, when identified, must be eradicated quickly to prevent infestation, said Gregory. "Speed is of the essence," he said. Article


Water Chestnuts taking over New York creek

WIVB-TV News4 Buffalo, New York

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Fish and Wildlife experts are gearing up for an all out assault on Tonawanda Creek this weekend.

News 4's George Richert shows the invader these experts hope to wipe out before too much damage is done.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service discovered them a couple months ago on a routine fish survey.
Water Chestnuts starting to take over one stretch of Tonawanda Creek near Ellicott Creek Island.

Michael Goehle from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said, "We started what's called a Rapid Response. We quickly notified the local agencies, Erie County Parks and they've all been very supportive in our plans to go in and try to hand pull the water chestnuts." Article


Long Pond Greenbelt, New York, gets funding for invasive species battle

Andrea Autichio,

Southampton, NY - An on-going effort to restore the natural habitat in a portion of what is considered by some to be one of the state’s finest nature preserves has been moving ahead rapidly this year thanks to a private grant given to the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt by the Brine Family Charitable Trust.

The $40,000 grant has enabled the volunteers to hire professionals to clear the 35-acre former Bridgehampton vineyard, part of the 600-acre greenbelt, to prevent an invasive species of shrubbery known as “autumn olive” from overtaking the landscape and destroying its ecological balance.

“It just grows everywhere,” Dai Dayton, a member of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt said. “We have been making great progress this year,” Dayton noted as she addressed the Southampton Town Trustees at their regular meeting this month.

Thanks to the grant, the Friends of the Greenbelt were able to clear 20 acres on the former vineyard this year alone, compared to the slow going clearing campaign of the first 10-acre portion that fronts the Bridgehampton-Sagg Turnpike which took the last few years to complete by volunteers.

Dayton was flanked on either side by Sandra Ferguson, President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Long Pond Bond Greenbelt and by Priscilla Ciccariello, another founding member of the volunteer organization that works to preserve the Greenbelt, an extensive natural habitat that runs from the shores of Sag Harbor Cove to the Atlantic Ocean. Article


Basilisk lizard in Cape Coral raises invasive concern

By Brian Liberatore, The News-Press

When a Cape Coral woman spotted a 2 1/2-foot brown lizard clinging to her pool screen, her first thought was, "it doesn't belong here."

I guessed it was somebody's pet that got freed," said Carol Peppers. "All I know is it doesn't belong here."

According to local experts, Peppers is probably right.

Peppers' visitor is known as a Jesus lizard for its ability to run across the surface of still bodies of water. It likely found itself in Cape Coral, experts agree, after a negligent pet owner let it loose.

A small population of the brown basilisks, new to Cape Coral, joins a growing list of non-native species invading local ecosystems, and making problems for wildlife authorities who seem helpless to control them. Cape's City Council wants state officials to act, from reclassifying the species to forcing owners to register them. Article


Saratoga Lake's milfoil curbed


STILLWATER, NY -- Eurasian milfoil, an invasive plant that creates a nuisance for boaters and swimmers, is almost under control in Saratoga Lake, according to the Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District.

The district, which is supported by 1,400 taxpayers who live around the lake, paid for an application of a herbicide to kill the weeds. Last year the chemicals were used on the south end of the lake and in May the district moved to the east side. The cost of the project is $550,000 so far.

This year the district switched from the Sonar brand of herbicide to Renovate, a chemical that needs only three days of contact with the weed to work, rather than 30 days, said lake administrator Dean Long, the director of Environmental Planning for the LA Group in Saratoga Springs.

"It killed the milfoil on the east side or stressed it to the point its growth was slowed down and it is 80 to 90 percent under control," Long said.

In 2009, the district will complete the application cycle on the west side of the lake. Article


Small snail may pose threat to Great Lakes' ecosystem

The Windsor Star

A small but potentially dangerous snail has been spotted in all but one of the Great Lakes.

The New Zealand mud snail, which was first identified as an invasive species in the Great Lakes in 1991, has some academics wondering if the spread will wreak havoc with the delicate ecosystem.

Edward Levri, a biology professor at Penn State's Altoona campus, presented his research on the tiny mollusk at the Ecological Society of America's annual conference in Milwaukee.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the tiny snail has been documented in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Lake Superior. Now the Penn State researchers have reported the species in Lake Michigan, and the waters flowing from Lake Ontario. Article


Monday, August 4, 2008

Week of August 3, 2008

Invasive species bills stuck in Congress


WASHINGTON (AP) — Tiny foreign mussels assault drinking water sources in California and Nevada. A deadly fish virus spreads swiftly through the Great Lakes and beyond. Japanese shore crabs make a home for themselves in Long Island Sound, more than 6,000miles away.

These are no exotic seafood delicacies. They're a menace to U.S. drinking water supplies, native plants and animals, and they cost billions to contain.

Yet Congress is moving to address the problem at the pace of a plain old garden snail.

With time for passing laws rapidly diminishing in this election year, two powerful Senate committee chairmen are at loggerheads over legislation to set the first federal clean-up standards for the large oceangoing ships on which aquatic invasive species hitch a ride to U.S. shores.

The dispute is between Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Boxer is blocking a clean-up bill passed by Inouye's committee over concerns it would pre-empt stronger standards in California and a handful of other states; Inouye believes a single national standard is needed. Boxer also insists the clean-up program be governed in part by the Clean Water Act — which would give environmental groups the right to sue to enforce it — while Inouye's bill keeps the program in the hands of the Coast Guard.

Similar clean-up legislation has already passed the House, but advocates on both sides are pessimistic about breaking the impasse before Congress finishes up work for the year. Article


Off summer for some invasive species in Massachusetts

By Doug Fraser,

Cape Cod trees were largely spared the scourges of that voracious triumvirate — the winter moth, forest tent, and gypsy moth caterpillars — this summer.

"There were some localized pockets, but there wasn't any widespread defoliation," said Roberta Clark of the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. But that doesn't signal an end to the plague. Next year, given favorable weather conditions, the pests could be back in greater numbers.

That could affect orchards, blueberry growers and the average homeowner. After three or four years of complete defoliation by winter moths or gypsy and tent caterpillars, even larger trees can die, Clark said. Stands of dead trees in Sandwich and along Route 3 in Kingston testify to that, she added.

In the case of the gypsy moth and forest tent caterpillars, the humid, cool conditions this past spring helped two strains of the entomophagia fungus attack and decimate their populations. One of those strains is itself an alien species that was introduced in 1989 to attack the gypsy moth. Biological "controls" like the fungus sometimes take a decade or more to establish themselves.

University of Massachusetts entomology professor Joseph Elkinton believes the 1989 fungus is just now taking a major toll on gypsy moths.

For winter moths, it was the hard freeze following Thanksgiving that trapped many of the adult moths in the frozen ground before they could emerge and take their mating flight. Article


Mapping a menace in Connecticut

By Robert Miller,

If you look across Candlewood Lake on a bright day, the sunlight glints and dances on the water.

In his shallow-bottomed boat, Greg Bugbee is now busy slowly criss-crossing Candlewood, wearing sunglasses that help him peer through the surface sheen. The object of his attention -- Eurasian watermilfoil -- lies underwater.

This year, it's hard not to see it.

"Last year, we could stay away from the docks," Bugbee said, pointing out that the plants in 2007 were mostly out in deeper water, away from the shoreline. "This year, it's in closer. That means I have to work between the docks in some places."

Bugbee is a an assistant scientist for the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. For the past four years, he's helped map the thick beds of watermilfoil in Candlewood Lake. For the past two years, working in conjunction with FirstLight Power Resources -- which owns the Housatonic River hydroelectric plants -- he's added Lake Lillinonah and Lake Zoar to the project. Article


Fish species on the decline in the Hudson River, in part due to invasive species

By Michael Risinit, The Journal News

Where the Hudson River bends around Jones Point in Rockland County, there is a navigational marker labeled P 47 on the charts - the letter signifying nearby Peekskill and the figure its height in feet. Two ospreys one morning perched on the structure, which looks like a small oil derrick.

The black-and-white fish hawks also sit atop the river's web of life. Feet first, they can snatch a meal from a river whose biological productivity has been described as "staggering."

State lawmakers heralded the river's fish life when they created the Hudson River Estuary Management Program in 1987, declaring it to be an estuary of "statewide and national importance." An arm of the sea filled with food and shelter for young fish, the Hudson, the Legislature proclaimed then, "is the only major estuary on the East Coast to still retain strong populations of its historical spawning stocks."

Now, 21 years later, many of the Hudson's signature fish populations are suffering. Numbers of American shad, American eel, smelt and blueback herring are declining, according to state fisheries biologists and others. Alewives and Atlantic sturgeon seem to be holding their own, the latter possibly rebounding from rock-bottom population numbers in the early 1990s.

About 214 species of fish call the river and its tributaries home sometime in their lives. Research and monitoring, though, concentrates mostly on sport fish and commercially important species. Several factors could be blamed for the tumbling numbers: loss of habitat and spawning grounds, contamination from sewage and storm water overflows, riverside power plants sucking in water (along with billions of fish larvae and eggs) to cool their equipment, the unintentional take of some species by ocean trawlers, climate change, and invasive species changing the river's food web. Article


Don't be seduced by purple loosestrife

Richard Ceponis, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County (New York)

In the middle of July you start to notice her along the riverbank, on the shore of a pond or along the highway. She catches your eye with a flirting bit of color as she pops up here and there. By August, she is everywhere that she could take root, and her seductive beauty is so strong that it makes you want to just pull over and pick some. But beware; she is not the cute and innocent native wildflower that she wants you to believe she is.

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is not native to North America; it is native to Eurasia. It entered the United States about 1814 by using its enticing beauty to lure European settlers into bringing it over for their flower gardens. It soon escaped cultivation and is now a major threat to the wetlands of the Northeast. It is one of the top 12 invasive exotic plants in upstate New York. The Nature Conservancy considers it a contributing factor to the potential extinction of some of our native wetland plants and animals. Article


2008 Invasive Plant Atlas of New England Invasives Training

New Hampshire

HANCOCK, N.H. — The Harris Center for Conservation Education is offering the “2008 Invasive Plant Atlas of New England Invasives Training” for those interested in learning how to collect and submit data on invasive species.

The Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE) has created a Web site database of invasive plant species in the region, which is updated with the help of professionals and trained volunteers.

The workshop will provide participants with the know-how to monitor invasive species in their areas, along with a handbook and invasive species field guide.

Part of the workshop will be spent outdoors and will be Tuesday, Aug. 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Harris Center, 83 King’s Highway, Hancock, New Hampshire.

Bring field guides, a hand lens magnifier, bug repellent, a hat, sunscreen, lunch, water, a daypack, binoculars and pencils or pens. Wear sturdy footwear.

Information: 508-877-7630 extension 3203 or e-mail



Cotton farmers face a formidable foe

By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press

IDEAL, Ga. — It’s only a few months into the cotton growing season, but already the budding rows of cotton are dwarfed by towering weeds that starve them of sunlight, nutrients and water.

This pesky pigweed species, called palmer amaranth, has long been held in check by powerful herbicides.

But three years ago, scientists discovered a far-from-ideal development in this central Georgia farming hamlet: The first species that’s resistant to all but the most aggressive chemical treatments.

Now, this powerful new breed has spread to farms throughout the Southeast and is threatening to move further west, baffling farmers and bringing comparisons to that deadliest scourge of cotton.

In Georgia alone, researchers expect to find it in about 40 counties this year. It’s steadily spread throughout the Southeast, afflicting farms in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Arkansas. With each farm it devastates, it’s brought comparisons to the boll weevil, the beetle that lays eggs in the plant’s boll and ruins them.

...the only proven method to stop the weed is prevention. Article


State of Connecticut and volunteers make gains against water chestnut

By Candace Page, Free Press staff writer

WEST HAVEN, Ct. — In the battle of humans v. alien invaders on Lake Champlain, the home team has made it on the scoreboard.

Water chestnut, a native of Eurasia, once choked bays as far north as the Crown Point Bridge in Addison. Dense beds of the invasive plant drove fish away from oxygen-depleted waters, tangled boat propellers and made some stretches impossible to navigate.

Today, thanks to 10 years of work, more than $2 million and nearly 13,000 hours of volunteer labor, the worst infestations have been removed from 20 miles of lake between West Addison and Benson Landing.

Thick mats still cover much of South Bay, the lake’s southernmost finger, near Whitehall, N.Y. Yearly patrols by volunteers in canoes remove more scattered plants and keep the chestnut from surging north again.

“This is the closest you get to a real success story when it comes to invasives,” said Tim Hunt, field supervisor of Vermont’s water chestnut control program. Article


Saratoga Lake's milfoil curbed


STILLWATER, New York -- Eurasian milfoil, an invasive plant that creates a nuisance for boaters and swimmers, is almost under control in Saratoga Lake, according to the Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District.

The district, which is supported by 1,400 taxpayers who live around the lake, paid for an application of a herbicide to kill the weeds. Last year the chemicals were used on the south end of the lake and in May the district moved to the east side. The cost of the project is $550,000 so far.

This year the district switched from the Sonar brand of herbicide to Renovate, a chemical that needs only three days of contact with the weed to work, rather than 30 days, said lake administrator Dean Long, the director of Environmental Planning for the LA Group in Saratoga Springs.

"It killed the milfoil on the east side or stressed it to the point its growth was slowed down and it is 80 to 90 percent under control," Long said.

In 2009, the district will complete the application cycle on the west side of the lake.

Milfoil grows in large floating beds that kill off native plants and can become tangled in boat propellers. Herbicide used to control milfoil is used in the early spring so it is absorbed by milfoil rather than the native plants that come up later in the season, Long said.

"We were happy the native weeds were not stressed," said Joe Finn, a representative from the town of Saratoga on the improvement district board.

Long said he expects the herbicide to work for three to five years with occasional spot treatment. Article