One of the challenges of the Trust in protecting and enhancing our nature reserves and the wider landscape is the control of invasive plant species. Often choking out our native wildlife, non-native invaders can have a serious impact and reigning them in is always a difficult task. Manually pulling or treating with herbicides are often the normal approach to the vegetative vagabonds but it can be back braking and time consuming. However, to help in tackling one particular invasive species – the fairy fern or floating water fern Azolla filiculoides which originates from the Americas, a small weevil has come to our rescue. Mass reared by the Centre of Agriculture and Bioscience (CABI) the tiny 2mm long North American weevil Stenopelmus rufinasus will chomp its way through the infestation at Ashlawn Cutting Local Nature Reserve, Rugby where the Azolla has a grip on the old station pools and ponds. Fully tried and tested, once the weevil has eaten its way through the Azolla it dies off and is no threat to any other native wildlife or plants. So fingers crossed, the weevils have a healthy appetite and will do the hard work for us, munching their way to helping protect our wild spaces.
From Carl @ Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
Here’s hoping for a great outcome, will be about twelve weeks before we really start to see how effective they are and will take a while before they eat it all, probably into next year but will be great to have life back in the Marsh and surrounding area, It has taken us two years to get this far what with research and obtaining various permissions and then CABI having enough weevils to fulfil our order. And with the weevils costing about 50 pence each and being the size of a pin head, we have had to buy nearly £1000 worth of weevils to hopefully sort the issue, likely caused by an idle moment of someone emptying their fish bowl without due consideration to the impacts.
From Chairman Steve of Local Group