British Waterways to use weevils to prevent spread of water fern

British Waterways has announced plans to release 2mm weevils into the Bridgewater & Taunton Canal at Maunsel Lock in Somerset in a bid to kill off North American water fern (Azolla filiculoides).

Despite the efforts of Government campaign Be Plant Wise, launched earlier in the year, invasive non-native species pond plants such as floating pennywort, parrot's feather and water fern are continuing to grow rapidly in Britain's canals and waterways.

Individual water fern plants are relatively small - around 10mm long - but grow voraciously and can cover the surface of a waterway with thick mats within a few weeks, reducing oxygen and light levels in the water and killing fish and other wildlife.

British Waterways ecologist Robert Randall explained: "As the warm weather continues, there's a danger that it will take over completely, so introducing weevils to the canal acts as a natural pre-emptive strike in getting rid of this weed.

"The weevils breed extremely rapidly and only eat water fern so are very effective in destroying the plant without causing further damage to other species.

"If we don't act now there is a danger that birds may inadvertently transfer the weed to the rest of the canal. Then it will be much harder to contain the spread."

He added: "Anyone thinking of buying pond plants should consider the effect that certain, generally non-native, species can have on local waterway wildlife.

"If you already have these plants in your garden and need to dispose of them, don't put them down the drain or in the rubbish. Instead, compost, burn or bury them."

Last year, British Waterways spent more than £400,000 removing aquatic weeds from the 2,200-mile network under its care.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Be wary of unscrupulous clients who may look for loopholes to avoid settling up at the end of a job, Alan Sargent warns.

Living walls

Living walls

The benefits of green walls make them worth investigation by all green-space professionals, says Miranda Kimberley.

Business planning - improving productivity through training

Business planning - improving productivity through training

How to create a structured training programme for your staff to give your business a competitive edge, by Neville Stein.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

BALI National Landscape Awards 2017

Read all about the winning projects in the awards, run in association with Horticulture Week.

-Download the Digital Edition

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Industry Data

An exclusive report for HW subscribers revealing the key development trends, clients and locations for 2017.

Products & Kit Resources

Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space

Read Noel Farrer