URI Today

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Scientists release insects to combat invasive vine

uri today feature photo
Courtesy of Michael Salerno Photography

Along a roadside in Hopkinton, Lisa Tewksbury uncapped several vials containing hundreds of tiny weevils and released them on a group of vines with triangular leaves. The weevils are known to only feed on mile-a-minute vine, an aggressive invasive plant native to the Far East that arrived in Rhode Island in 2008 and has taken up residence in several communities.

The plant is the target of a University of Rhode Island biocontrol effort designed to let the plant’s natural enemy keep it in check without affecting the region’s native species.

“Mile-a-minute is a very persistent plant that is difficult to get rid of,” said Tewksbury, a URI entomologist who is rearing 18,000 weevils for release this year. “We know that biocontrol works on this plant, so we’re hoping the weevil population will be self-perpetuating and they will keep…

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