Monday, August 15, 2016

Kudzu is on the decline in the South, but is following warmer temperatures northward

Kudzu, a leafy vine known for covering nearly everything in its path, is waning in the rural South and waxing to the north, Dan Chapman reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin: Overflowing kudzu)

"Kudzu covered only 227,000 acres of Southern forests in 2010, according to the U.S. Forest Service, a remarkably reduced amount of territory compared with previous years," Chapman writes. Scientists say Japanese honeysuckle—which  covered 10.3 million forested acres in 2010 and spreads roughly 65,000 acres each year—and other invasive species, such as "Cogon grass, Chinese privet, English ivy, bamboo, tallow trees and other invasives occupy foresters more than kudzu."

"Rampant development, a kudzu-eating bug (Megacopta cribraria) and herbicides threaten kudzu’s spread beyond the forests," Chapman reports. However, "Milder winters, due to a warming climate, are allowing kudzu to spread into the Midwest, Oregon, even Canada," Chapman writes. Jim Miller, a somewhat retired research ecologist with the Forest Service in Auburn, Ala. who earned the nickname "Dr. Kudzu" for four decades of work on invasive species, told Chapman, “Oh yeah, all over the South, people just know you can’t stop kudzu. They say: ‘There’s nothing we can do. We’re helpless against it.’ But we showed 'em.” (Read more)

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