The invasive search and destroy mission

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

While it is true that most of the Putnam County land area is corn and soybeans, timberland comprises more than 6 percent of the county. The timber industry is very important to the county economically in terms of farm income overall and invasive species certainly provide threats to the industry.

The terms exotic and invasive in reference to plants, insects or disease would be defined in numerous ways if one were to ask folks in a survey.

The term 'exotic species' is a geographical attribute, meaning that the species in question is not native to Indiana; it may or may not be invasive.

The term 'invasive species' is a biological attribute, meaning that the species under consideration can establish itself and out-compete other species, usually severely disrupting the stability of the affected ecosystem. Invasive species may or may not be exotic species.

There are many exotic insect or disease threats like emerald ash borer or thousand cankers (walnut) and sudden oak death syndrome, respectively.

For the purpose of this discussion, focus will be about invasive characteristics of plants that out-compete, thereby threatening the native plants and ecosystems. However many invasive plants get established and threaten the future of native plants while many never notice until it is too late.

Solving most invasive plant problems is not a onetime cut or spray and go solution. Rather constant management and work are required to keep these problems in check. Step one is assessing the woods for the problem invasive plants to know the extent of the problem.

The numerous varieties of bush honeysuckles are one of the greatest threats to our local native woodlots.

In many cases the bright green understory bushes easy to spot in the late fall after all other leaves have fallen in woodlands, illustrate the advancement of the invasive bush honeysuckle varieties locally. Many revere bush honeysuckles as wildlife plantings.

The problem is that these bush honeysuckles become very dense in the understory and do not allow sufficient light to the forest floor resulting in choking out young tree growth and development.

This interrupts succession in the woodland and ultimately destroys woodland areas in that current big trees will not have young trees coming along as replacements. S

ince timing is everything, now while beneficial plants are dormant, one can use herbicides without harming other species.

A 1-percent solution of glyphosate (e.g. Roundup) sprayed on the foliage will provide control. It is best to do foliar applications when the temperature is at or above 50 degrees for best uptake by the plant.

Well established stands are likely best managed by cutting the stems to the ground and painting or spraying the stumps with a 20-30 percent solution of glyphosate or eight percent solution of triclopyr (e.g. Ortho Brush B-Gon concentrate).

For more info about invasive plants, visit the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) website at to learn more.

Both the CAPS and the Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN) ( have excellent websites to learn about invasive plants with identification and control information.

There are many plants that threaten though some of the greatest villain's in addition to bush honeysuckles are Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus), burning bush (Euonymus alatus), garlic mustard and Common Buckthorn to name a few.

If you are purchasing plants this spring, this website would be a good place to check to make sure you are not creating a future headache for yourself or others.

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