If you remember the book/film then, not quite - but almost. Anyone who's a serious gardener (as opposed to someone who just likes to sit in their garden) will be horrified if they come across the worst weed in the world. No, not couch grass, bindweed, ground elder or mare's tail - but Japanese knotweed. This triffid of a plant spreads rapidly and is really difficult to control with weedkillers - although after lots of research on how best to apply weedkillers to get the best results, a couple of manufacturers do now provide glyphosate in a Japanese knotweed-unfriendly format.
However, there has been some other research that has yielded a novel control method, but it is causing massive outrage with some people at the moment. And that's using biological control to reduce its growth and vigour. Now I'm a big fan of biological control - I've used it in my greenhouse to eradicate whitefly, but it is expensive to use and all the environmental factors have to be right for it to work. But this particular biological control involves releasing an insect into the wild to control knotweed in the countryside and some people think it'll breed out of control and destroy our native flora. I've seen some of the research results and I believe it to be OK. But what do you think? Here's a round-up of what's happened.
The insect (a psyllid or sucker by the name of Aphalara itadori) is the result of 15 years' of research. It has been tested against around 90 species of native plants, on which it didn't survive, so it seems that Jk is its only food source and the only thing it feeds on. CABI, the organisation that carried out the research, is probably the world expert on biological control and their methods are accepted around the world. It would seem, then, that this psyllid is unlikely to pose any threat. During the research around 150 other organisms were tried and rejected as they could possibly feed on other plants; rejection happened when there was just one instance of an insect developing through to an adult on a native plant.
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