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


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