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Alien invader fought off by army of hungry insects
AN ARMY of hungry insects have successfully fought off an alien invader trying to take over Malvern’s ponds.
Malvern Hills Conservators drafted in an unlikely ally, in the shape of an army of pond weevils, to tackle the invasive plant water fern which was choking the life out of pools on its land.
The tiny Azolla weevils only eat water fern and they were dispatched on a mission to chomp their way through the blanket of weed covering Hall Green Pond, in Guarlford.
More than 1,000 weevils were initially released into the pond last September.
But unfortunately the insect army did not have the desired effect and so the Conservators drafted in the reserves, sending another shipment into the water earlier this summer.
To the Conservators’ delight that back-up seems to have had the desired effect, with not a single trace remaining of the dense red mat of water fern that covered the pond just a few weeks ago.
Water fern is native to North America and the Conservators believe it was probably released from a home aquarium and thrived due to the mild weather of recent winters.
It quickly forms a dense covering over any water it invades, smothering ponds of light and oxygen and killing any wildlife below.
Jenny Palmer, deputy conservation officer for the Conservators, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that the weevil has been successful and we have helped prevent the spread of this unwelcome non-native weed to other ponds.
“We will continue to monitor all ponds for water fern and other non-native invasive aquatic plants and we would be really grateful for the public’s help with this.”
Water fern has distinctive overlapping leaves and is bright green in the summer, turning red through autumn and winter.
Anyone who suspects a pond on Conservators land has a water fern problem can report it by calling 01684 892002 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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