Monday, October 19, 2009

Milfoil Weevil as a Solution to Invasive Milfoil

By Dave Duncan

The Milfoil weevil is a small water bug that may be able to rescue troubled ecosystems. This stems from the fact that it only eats milfoil and is harmless to humanity).

Two sorts of milfoil exist in the Us. One is indigenous and the other invasive (Eurasian Milfoil). The indigenous species is not a problem but the Eurasian one is a major environmental threat. The milfoil weevil now enjoys great popularity thanks to its love for the Eurasian Milfoil.

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. Because of its ability to travel on boat anchors, bottoms, and propellers it spread widely, bringing with it drastic ecological shifts and extra problems for humans. Thankfully the milfoil weevil can be spread the same way.

It propagates quickly and destroys ecosystems by clogging out the native flora life which reduces food for water fowl, contracts habitat for fry, and reducing fishing by beasts. The mats constituted by the milfoil do not allow the wind to bring refreshing oxygen to the water and this will result in the eventual death of fish and a surge in algae growth.

The milfoil is more irritating for people than harmful because it can lose weight the amount of water available for boating, angling, swimming and waterskiing. In communities, the dense mats could cause floods and droughts because of clogged intake or overflow pipes. In dykes, they clog and break generators and reduce electricity output.

The milfoil weevil could well be the answer to this flora epidemic. Eurasia milfoil is a favorite of the milfoil weevil rather than the indigenous kind; this results in the invasive species being gradually destroyed and native floras slowly returning to their natural place. Coupled with a high reproduction rate, the weevil is the safe and ideal answer to the milfoil problem. When taking into consideration how quick the milfoil propagates, it is obvious that weevils are the perfect answer to controlling the problem.

It spreads when little pieces break off and sink to the bottom, there they take root. The use of a harvesting machine is not a great solution because it causes breakage and results in more milfoil growth. Vacuum dragging is a little better in that it gets the little pieces, but cause a great deal of water disturbance and leaves the bottom bare, so it will need replanting with indigenous species.

The milfoil weevil though favors Eurasian to native milfoil so it eats that first, slowly weeding it out by burrowing into the stems and eating it from the inside out. With only thirty days to live, the milfoil weevils will go through three generations before coming ashore for the winter. Milfoil weevils do have wings, but no one has ever seen them fly so no on knows exactly how the come ashore for the winter. Once based in a habitat, the milfoil weevil will live even through the coldest Minnesota winters.

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