Run, Ride, Watch, Enjoy on Louisiana's Swamp Road
Obnoxious Alligatorweed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) was accidentally imported to the US from South America in ship’s ballast-water around 1900 and immediately went about infesting coastal waterways from North Carolina to Texas. The stuff spreads out to cover a body of freshwater in mats so dense no sunlight gets to the plants and animals underneath and humans and wildlife can’t get through it. It will even crawl up on land where the soil is wet enough. Chopping it up doesn’t necessarily work because it can grow from the fragments. All it takes to infest a lake is to have someone carelessly carry some of it in on their boat trailer. One lake was even dried up to kill a bad infestation until it was determined there were enough seeds left to re-infest the lake.
In the 1970s some scientist went to where it came from to find out what eats and kills it (leaf beetles, thrips and snout moths). They declared the weed could now be eradicated. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it worked out and controlling the weed may require experimentation - trying the bugs, applying a range of aquatic herbicides and even using goats. Another factor is always money; state and local government budgets sometimes can’t keep up with it and control can only be spotty and/or infrequent.
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