Invasive weeds from the other side of the world have forced their way into Connecticut meadows and swamps, but state experts are fighting back – with beetles.
The concern stems from a bright green vine with triangular leaves and barbs on its stem to hook and smother plants in its way.
"It is something that we're very concerned about. It's one of many invasive plants in the state that will out compete. It grows very quickly, six inches a day, 25 feet a year. That's why they're called mile-a-minute weeds," said Donna Ellis, of UConn Extension's plant sciences office. "It was introduced accidentally from Asia, East Asia."
Ellis and other state experts deployed defenses against the weed Thursday morning at Great Pond Preserve in Glastonbury. They released weevils, beetles that also originate in Asia, which "skeletonize" the weeds by eating holes in them.
The weevil apparently has no appetite for anything else. It's not known to eat any other species of plant, just the mile-a-minute weed.
"Everything's been checked very carefully – all the stages have been followed and they do not attack anything other than Mile a Minute," said Carole Cheah, entomologist at the agriculture experiment station lab in Windsor.
The 500 weevils let loose in Glastonbury brings the total count to 44,000 weevils released in Connecticut over the last six years. Experts say that means several generations of weevils have been on the job.
The next town to get the weevils is Southbury. Weevils will be released Friday along the Pomperaug River.