Thursday, 27 June 2019
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I was disappointed to read the post and email from the VBA board directing members to comment against the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposal to permitting the release of Aphalara itadori to control Japanese Knotweed. It only discussed the benefit to bees and "native pollinators" without once mentioning the harm japanese knotweed does to the rest of the ecosystem, such as the damage knotweed does to the riparian boundaries around our waterways, damage that encourages erosion and the further degradation of our rivers and lakes.
Frankly, this is the kind of single minded desire to preserve one asset nevermind the costs other people must bear for it that I would expect to see from the coal industry rather than an organization who often trumpets its desire to protect the environment. Should we expect the VBA to next be advocating for the continued spread of poison parnsip as a potential new pollen source? The missive talks about the dangers of the growing agricultural monoculture of corn, yet seems fine with our wild places becoming increasingly dominated with invasive species. A entire glade taken over japanese knotweed is also a monoculture that should be avoided.
As it is, japanese knotweed, unlike any other organism that is in balance with its ecosystem, has no other organism that acts to control it. Aphalara itadori if introduced here is very unlikely to eradicate japanese knotweed, that genie is out of the bottle for good and evil, but it might help bring it into balance with our environment.
2 years ago
I agree with your point. It is single minded and there are many such issues on that avenue which should be addressed in future and on different forums. Not to go completely off track of this discussion rather to shed light on what I mean.

Champlain Valley is the heartland of beekeeping in Vermont, it's also the only region to my knowledge that warrants Clover Honey label. This is historically so, no dispute that once the mass of farms in that fertile region rotated crops and planted alsike clover as cover crop to add nitrogen to soil. That is the past. The VBA knows something has to be done about the monoculture of corn in present day yet still uses the clover honey label when reality is there is no longer bunker crop of clover compared to any other region in Vermont. Until people stand united and transparently any arguments made pro beekeeping in general will always be seen as self interest. Transparency and integrity as a group carries weight, any self interest diminishes the power of what could be an overwhelming influential altruistic lobbying force.
2 years ago
An overview of the program can be found here:

A description of the results so far of trials in the UK can be found here:

However, I want to point out that efficacy is a side issue unrelated to my concerns about the communication from the VBA. The communication was a call for action from the membership based on very little information outside of the assumption that this intervention would eliminate Japanese knotweed from Vermont and that this would reduce the nectar flow at a time when nectar would be particularly useful. The UK study suggests that the this particular control agent is not likely to be able to eliminate knotweed, so I would propose that the concern raised in the VBA communication is unwarranted (especially as it was having trouble overwintering in the UK). The UK studies also suggest that this agent is very specific to knotweed. But I again digress a bit, as I do not want to necessarily advocate one way or another, my objection was that the communication itself was very one sided and totally failed to actually educate the membership on the issue. Literally 30 seconds of "Googling" got me those links. One might find points to find fault or concerns in them, sure. But the VBA communication made no effort to even do that, it was little more than the opinion of whoever wrote it and served as dog whistle to the VBA membership without any attempt to actually inform the membership. That is what I objected to.
2 years ago
My only concern about releasing a new species to control another invasive species is what studies have been done that it will work? What other species of plant does this insect enjoy?

Here in Vermont we've introduced many species to control another. The track record of this is poor. The introduced control usually targets another species than the one native to it's region. I'd like to see studies of introduction in similar environments prior to this one.
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