An invasive plant has been reported in five more eastern Connecticut towns. The mile-a-minute vine spreads quickly, and chokes out native vegetation.
Joining us to talk about the mile-a-minute vine is Donna Ellis. She is a Senior Extension Educator at the University of Connecticut, and she is Co-Chair of the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group.
"The mile-a-minute vine is an annual vine native to eastern Asia," Ellis explains. "It has been in the United States since about the 1930s, when it was introduced accidentally in Pennsylvania." In 2000, the plant was first discovered in Connecticut -- in Greenwich.
The plant has a very rapid growth rate, as much as six inches a day, and 25 feet a year. "It's called the Velcro plant," Ellis says, "because the vines have a tendency to adhere to other vegetation. They don't wrap very tightly around stems, but they will clamber over and smother other vegetation."
A beneficial beetle, called a weevil, is being introduced at various sites around the state to try to curb the problem. The weevil eats only mile-a-minute vines.
"We introduced them four years ago in Connecticut," Ellis says, "and they're now being released and monitored. They establish where they've been introduced, surviving Connecticut winters." The weevils need time to build up numbers and make an impact on the mile-a-minute vine - perhaps about five years.
To report suspected mile-a-minute vine, visit the University of Connecticut website for identification and contact information.