And so the alligator weed flea beetle project continues on the Black River with a monitoring trip to Ivanhoe last Friday 6/28. You can read about the entire project in these posts from 2011 and 2012; flea beetles?, Flea beetles cont., and Flea Beetle Success!!
Alligator weed is an invasive species from South America and it is growing in the Black River. For the past 3 years we, The Nature Conservancy, have been working with DENR Aquatic Weed Control Program to try to abate some of the alligator weed along the Black River using a bio control called the alligator weed flea beetle; a beetle native to South America as well. The flea beetles eat the alligator weed, they are brilliant, and they don’t eat anything else.
In the spring of 2011 and 2012 we released 3500 beetles along a section of the Black River in Ivanhoe, NC. The beetles did their job, munching away at the alligator weed decimating it to nothing but stems. This year we decided not to release beetles and see if any of them manage to overwinter; which would be a good thing for controlling the alligator weed because it would mean we wouldn’t have to release beetles every year. Our findings on this were not as positive as hoped. Though we didn’t find any beetles we did see evidence of beetle munching, which could mean they are there we just didn’t see them.
It is also worth noting that since we have had so much rain here in the southeast coastal plain the Black River is the highest it has been in years, flowing over the banks and sandbars demonstrating what a true floodplain looks like. Because of this inundation the alligator weed is thriving. For the past several years under drought conditions the alligator weed along the Black River struggled in certain areas but this summer it has doubled in acreage and looks very healthy. Ironically enough we desperately need the rain to reduce our deficit but it is not helping the alligator weed situation.
Stay tuned for more on our alligator weed flea beetle project!