Thursday, June 28, 2012

Could weevils be the answer to dreaded weed..?

Here's a familiar early season sight on some of the drains and rivers in the Fens. They call it blanket weed, but it's actually a species of fern called azolla, which can reproduce so fast it doubles in size in days and forms a thick blanket across the surface.

It comes from Australia and SE Asia, where it's grown alongside rice in paddy fields, to fertilise the old basmati and keep mosquitos at bay. When it gains a foothold in a drain, it soon ends up looking like this one.

In bad years, it can cover miles of waterway, making it impossible to fish. Now the Environment Agency is experimenting with a natural cure, that might nip the stuff in the bud.

Scientists introduced a load of weevils - bugs which feed ravenously on the stuff - to one of the Boston drains today. They're hoping it might be the answer. I know a lot of pike anglers who'd drink to that.

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