In a world-first, South American weevils have been released in England to fight against the invasive non-native species floating pennywort, as part of Invasive Species Week.
An ornamental pond plant originating from North America, floating pennywort has the ability to grow up to 20 centimetres each day, forming dense rafts over our rivers that harm native plant, fish and invertebrate species, through competition and cutting oxygen levels in water.
Floating pennywort impedes navigation routes, disrupts recreational activities like fishing and canoeing and exacerbates flood risk.
This is the first use of a biocontrol for floating pennywort across the globe, and only the fourth agent ever released in the UK to tackle non-native plants. The releases were carried out over the winter, with more scheduled for this summer, working alongside the typical approach to managing the plant, which involves physically cutting and extracting it from our waterways.
Minister for Biosecurity Lord Benyon said: “It is important that we tackle invasive non-native species to protect our native plants and animals and safeguard our environment, economy and health.
“We all have a role to play in stopping the destruction caused by floating pennywort – and the release of the South American weevil will boost our efforts to eradicate this pest from our waterways once and for all.”