Japanese Knotweed Biocontrol

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Loosing the Louse on Europe's Largest Invasive Pest

by Jennifer Carpenter

Japanese knotweed can grow through solid concrete foundations, forcing contractors to abandon infested building sites. In the United Kingdom, damages and removal cost $288 million a year. Last week, the United Kingdom approved the widespread release of one of the plant's natural enemies, a plant louse, or psyllid, called Aphalara itadori. While there are dozens of biological controls already in use against insect pests, this is the first officially sanctioned release of one against a weed in the European Union. An article in Science magazine (13 May 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6031 p. 781) details the effort.

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