APHIS Issues Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Giant Reed Biological Control Agent

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued a final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the release of Lasioptera donacis in the continental United States to biologically control giant reed, Arundo donax. Based on the finding of no significant impact, we will not prepare an environmental impact statement.

Giant reed is a pervasive non-native plant that has invaded riparian areas (areas where land meets river or stream) of the Southwest United States, especially in California and the Rio Grande area of Texas. These infestations cause stream bank erosion, damage to structures like bridges, and a loss of biodiversity. Giant reed infestations also provide habitat for cattle fever ticks that spread bovine babesiosis, a devastating and costly cattle disease. In addition, the infestations impede law enforcement activities on the international border. Federal, state, and private entities who conduct giant reed management programs and wish to release Lasioptera donacis to reduce the severity of giant reed infestations in the continental United States should contact APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine for a permit. Continue reading

Wasp and Scale Insects Help Control Giant Reed

By Sandra Avant, Agricultural Research Service

The release of tiny insects to combat the invasive weed giant reed is paying off, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists released the arundo gall wasp and the arundo scale several years ago as part of a biocontrol program to kill giant reed along Texas’ Rio Grande. The weed, also known as “carrizo cane” and “Spanish reed,” clogs streams and irrigation channels, weakens river banks, stifles native vegetation, affects flood control, reduces wildlife habitat, and impedes law enforcement activities along the international border. Continue reading

Is Arundo the next answer to the fuel crisis or the next kudzu?

In the early 1900s, the U.S. Soil Erosion Service distributed 85 million seedlings of kudzu over 3 million acres of sloped embankments to prevent erosion. While the initial intention probably seemed like a good idea, other issues took precedence over maintaining the weed, which quickly took over everything in its path. According to a recent article in Raleigh’s major newspaper, officials wanting to increase the production of biofuels in the South are planning to start mass plantings of another aggressive and invasive weed: Arundo.

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