Museum & Pollinator Habitats
Invasive Plant Control
Invasive plants are a far greater threat to our region (and our country) than most people realize, and here's why:
- Native Plants - Invasive plants completely take over the areas where they grow, forcing out and killing off all of the native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees that would normally grow in those areas. The way trees are forced out is because seedling trees are no longer able to germinate, so as older trees die off, there are no new ones left to take their place.
- Pollinators - Without the native wildflowers, and even the non invasive weedy flowers there is nothing left for pollinators to feed on. Without pollinators, our orchards and gardens will suffer, and out food supply will diminish.
- Deer - By far the worst invasive plant in southwest Ohio is the Amur Honeysuckle bush. It is so abundant and provides such thick cover that deer populations are exploding, as they no longer have to be careful to hide.
- Coyotes - The Amur Honeysuckle that provides so much cover for deer, offers that same protection to coyotes whose numbers are also exploding in urban and suburban areas. Remove the honeysuckle, and the deer and coyotes will no longer be able to hide, and will be forced to move out into the rural undeveloped areas.
- Lyme's disease - The explosion in deer populations has been proven to be directly related to the significant increase in the cases of lyme's disease. It has been shown that when honeysuckle is removed, the number of ticks found carrying the disease dramatically decreases.
- Erosion - Amur Honeysuckle often prevents anything else from growing underneath it. This usually leaves the ground completely bare, and highly susceptible to erosion. When AH is removed, and native plants begin to return, the erosion stops.
Is there a solution? The battle will be tough, but we have some awesome new ideas for attacking this serious threat head on, and seeing where that gets us. First let’s take a close look at the current challenges we face in making an attempt to battle this monster.
•Lack of funding – grants and tax dollars are the only current funding streams, and there is tremendous competition for both. Solution – Open Pollinator Plus Museums in specific suitable locations based on tourist traffic, nearby hotel rooms available, population density, etc. Add value to the harvesting process by utilizing the materials being removed. •Lack of volunteer labor – if there are too few funds to hire out the workers needed the only option is to recruit volunteers. Combating invasive bush honeysuckle is more labor intensive than what most potential volunteers want to get involved with. Solution – Provide more efficient tools, less labor intensive options, more environmentally friendly options, and give hope that the battle is not lost. •Lack of efficient equipment – Currently there are a lot of battles taking place, but no all-out war. How many cities and towns across the US own their own Tanks, fighter jets, bombers, or aircraft carriers? This is a huge crisis, and we need to attack it on a united front that is great enough to purchase the large equipment that will be necessary to have a chance at bringing this issue under control. Heavy duty equipment could be purchased collectively and shared. The equipment could be paid for by actually selling compost material created by harvesting the bushes. It is crucial that this war is fought by all of us combining forces, because the small groups, municipalities, and park districts are not able to or motivated to purchase the equipment needed to get the job done. If the right equipment does not exist yet, it needs to be designed and built. •Lack of efficient tools – There have been a number of tools designed to effectively pull shrubs from the ground with little effort. Solution - There needs to be better options/tools designed for pulling the small seedlings without having to bend over. Some people can bend for a period while they work, others quite a bit, but creating more bend free removal options will increase the effectiveness of volunteers, as well as increasing the number of volunteers willing to get involved. •Lack of environmentally friendly killing methods – The use of Glyphosate is a very controversial subject, and many potential volunteers are strongly opposed to its use under any circumstances. I believe that there is significant potential in utilizing an insulated chamber to burn stumps quickly, effectively, and without risk of fire. Design options need to be tested, as well as methods of use such as most effective time of year to burn. In some areas goats could be used to control re-emerging shoots, which will eventually kill the plants. Even an annual mowing can be used to keep it under control provided it is done at the proper time of year, and that it is done prior to the new growth becoming too woody. •Lack of information – There needs to be more research done, or better dispersal of information gathered from research that has already been done. I have unanswered questions about the growth habits, regenerative habits, and the chemical produced by the plants that inhibit germination or growth of other plants. •Lack of promotion – Environmentalists, conservationists, and people with a deep appreciation of the outdoors are well aware of the problem, but we need to take this crisis to mainstream, and make everyone aware of how serious this situation has become, and how serious the ramifications are. Solution – There needs to be a documentary made, and short video clips produced. News sources need to be made aware of how serious this problem is so that they are motivated to help get the word out to everyone. Yes, we need a highly informative video documentary made to help get the word out to everyone as needs to happen. We must educate the public, and a video that clearly shows how widespread Amur Honeysuckle is, and tells why it must be removed will help do that. •Lack of hope – To many of those that are currently involved in dealing with this issue, there may appear to be no hope in ever eliminating or controlling this plant. Some people may volunteer once, or a few times, but when they see the plant rapidly coming back with a vengeance, they may very well think “why bother, we’re losing, it can’t be stopped”. We have to give folks hope! Solution – Implement these ideas, and there will be hope.
How bad has Amur Honeysuckle become in our area? Just look around you. Look along I-71, I-75, I-275, Ronald Reagan Hwy, along the Mill Creek, along any other roads where all of the grass is not mowed, in any and all of the parks throughout southwest Ohio.
Here are a few videos shot last fall that give a mere glimpse of how bad it has become:
Also, check out these links to research that shows the direct connection between Amur Honeysuckle and Lyme Disease:
As you can clearly see in these photos, the Amur Honeysuckle not only replaces and out competes all of the native flora, but it also leaves the ground below totally bare. This in turn leaves the site extremely vulnerable to erosion which then significantly impacts water quality in creeks, rivers, and lakes.
Lower the cost of removing invasive plants by adding value to the process. Read how!