Reporting Kai Jackson
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The state of Maryland released an invasive pest out into the wild–on purpose. Thousands of weevils are being unleashed across several counties to battle a destructive weed.
Kai Jackson has more on the unusual strategy.
The state believes the best way to fight this weed is by using a little bug with a voracious appetite.
The Mile-a-Minute Weed is an invasive plant from Asia and the State Highway Administration says it’s no friend to Maryland’s environment.
“Some of the invasive species that you’ll see in a wetland, they actually look pretty. There’s one that has a purple flower that looks nice but it’s not very good for the wetland,” said Valerie Burnette Edgar, State Highway Administration.
The solution is a tiny multi-legged insect commonly known as the weevil. The State Highway Administration says the critters have an insatiable appetite for the weeds. Workers released the bugs in seven wetlands around the state. Now they’re letting nature take its course.
“We’re working on suppressing populations of Mile-a-Minute weed invasive vine and we’re using a weevil,” said Robert Trumble.
The state actually doesn’t want to eradicate the Mile-a-Minute weed. Rather, they’d like to keep enough around to keep a healthy weevil population so the goal here is to maintain a healthy environmental balance.
The state says the Mile-a-Minute weed reproduces quickly and blocks other plants from getting sunlight. Left unchecked, the state says it takes over natural habitats.
“It would be very costly and time consuming and harmful to the environment,” Burnette Edgar said.
The state has been using the weevil program for a few years and says this is an expanded version of it.