Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2, 2011

Bug Battle: An Invasive Plant Now Faces Its Own Attacker

Insects From Asia Munch on Kudzu, a Vine That Has Grown on Some

The Wall Street Journal

GRIFFIN, Ga.—Patti Bennett was looking out the window of her home office one morning two years ago when a swarm of green bugs flew out of the neighboring kudzu patch.

"I thought, 'What the hell is that headed at my house?' It was like a horror movie," says Ms. Bennett, a 53-year-old insurance underwriter who lives about an hour from Atlanta. She killed hundreds of bugs with spray, while thousands more released a musty, bittersweet odor in defense.

She scooped some bugs into a Tupperware container of alcohol and handed them to the local Home Depot specialist, an exterminator and a county agricultural agent.

Ms. Bennett was one of the first people in the South to report seeing Megacopta cribraria, an insect native to Asia that likely stowed away on a flight in 2009 and entered the U.S. through Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, entomologists say.

Often a new bug brings nothing but bites and headaches for entomologists who race to limit the damage. But battle lines are being drawn over Megacopta cribraria.

The bug, which has spread from North Carolina to Alabama, kills kudzu—a picturesque but pesky green vine that was itself an Asian import. Over the next decade, the bug could munch up to a third of the eight million acres of the kudzu that blankets the South, says James L. Hanula, an invasive plant specialist with the U.S. Forest Service in Athens, Ga....

Research on the kudzu bug has trumped fire-ant and pecan weevil projects at the quiet Griffin campus. "We have an insect that had not been reported in the New World," Mr. Gardner says. "Many entomologists go through their career and never have that experience."

The bugs have recently started venturing out of kudzu patches as they seek places to hibernate for winter. In Georgia, the bugs have been smashing into windshields, lighting on exterior walls and smelling up soccer games and outdoor parties....

Read the full story at link.


Invasive Plant Distribution Maps - Northern Region

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 12:18 PM PDT

Posted by USDA's National Invasive Species Information Center --

The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the USDA Forest Service has created a series of downloadable invasive plant distribution maps for its Northern Region (includes 24 states). The distributions on these maps portray the spatial distribution of the plants based on observations from the FIA program. Check out our Plant Species Profiles which now includes this data.


Loopholes in the regulation of invasive species: genetic identifications identify mislabeling of prohibited aquarium plants

Ryan A. Thum, Amanda T. Mercer and Dustin J. Wcisel

Biological Invasions Online First™, 31 October 2011


Numerous invasive aquatic species introductions can be traced to the aquarium trade. Many potentially harmful aquarium species may be difficult to identify based on morphology alone. As such, some prohibited or invasive species may be available for purchase if they are mislabeled as species without restrictions. Here we compare molecular identifications to internet vendors’ identifications for accessions of a popular genus of aquarium plants that are difficult to distinguish morphologically (Myriophyllum; watermilfoils). Specifically, we identified the extensive mislabeling of M. heterophyllum—an invasive species in the northeastern and western US. Furthermore, genotypes of M. heterophyllum found in our aquarium survey have also been found in invasive populations, suggesting their potential introduction through escape from aquaria, water gardens, or nurseries. Two additional taxa were sold under incorrect names. Finally, our survey revealed that Myriophyllum taxa present in the aquarium trade generally have poorly known distributions and ecologies, and therefore their invasive potential is unknown. Our study confirms that molecular identification methods can provide a valuable tool to survey commercial pathways for potentially harmful species that are otherwise difficult to identify.

Keywords Aquarium trade – Myriophyllum – Taxonomy – Invasion – Water gardening – ITS


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