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.