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Milfoil Weevil as a Barrier to Invasive Milfoil

Milfoil Weevil as a Barrier to Invasive Milfoil


    

Milfoil Weevil as a Barrier to Invasive Milfoil

by Dave Duncan

The milfoil weevil is a tiny, special marine insect indigenous to The Us that might have some very positive effects for humans and local ecosystems. This stems from the fact that it only eats milfoil and is harmless to humanity).

Two types of milfoil exist in the Us. There is a indigenous one and an invasive species of Eurasian milfoil. The indigenous species poses no menace but the Eurasian strain is very damaging. It is this one that is making the milfoil weevil so significant.

Eurasian Milfoil (the primary milfoil that will be referenced from this point on) probably came to America between the 1800's and the 19404's as an unwelcome passenger on some large ship. Milfoil can easily travel on the bottom of a boat and grow fast, which causes negative ecological changes and causes problems for humanity. Luckily this can spread the milfoil weevil as well.

This water plant grows quickly, devastating local floras and limiting the food and living area for many marine beasts. The large mats it forms reduce the oxygenation of water by wind that leads to stressed fish and algae blooms.

The milfoil is more irritating for humans than harmful because it can lose weight the amount of water available for yachting, angling, bathing and waterskiing. Communities are more adversely affected as the mats can clog intake and overflow pipes resulting in flooding or droughts. Milfoil mats can even cause dam generators to choke or break resulting in lower electricity production.

The milfoil weevil may well be the answer to this plant epidemic. The milfoil weevil favors Eurasian milfoil to the native variety, which means that the invasive species are destroyed over time and native plants are allowed to gradually recover. Coupled with a high reproduction rate, the weevil is the safe and ideal answer to the milfoil problem. When looking at how the milfoil spreads it becomes clear and why milfoil weevils control it so well.

Milfoil spread when a little portion is broken off, sinks to the bottom and then takes root, forming a new growth. Aquatic harvesting devices are not productive because they break the flora and pieces come off and replant themselves elsewhere. Vacuum dredging is only slightly more successful in that it catches little broken pieces, but it also causes a great disturbance in the water and can strip the bottom of all floras.

With a taste for Eurasia milfoil rather than the native milfoil, the weevil eats the flora from the inside out, ultimately demolishing the whole plant. With a short life span (milfoil weevils live about thirty days) at least 3 generations will live and die till they head to the shore to winter. The weevils do have wings, but have never been seen flying, so whether they swim or fly ashore will remain a mystery. Once based in a habitat, the milfoil weevil will live even through the coldest Minnesota winters.

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