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The term "invasive species" may not sound very threatening, but these invaders, both large and small, can and do have devastating effects on wildlife and communities across the world. 

What is an Invasive Species

Invasive species are one of the most threatening problems to native wildlife, with approximately 42% of endangered species at risk as a result of invasive species. Endangered species aren't the only things that are at risk due to invasive species, however, with economies and human health also susceptible to feel the effects. The impact that invasive species have on our natural ecosystems and economy cost billions each and every year, with many of our recreational, agricultural and commercial activities heavily reliant on healthy native ecosystems. 

What is an invasive species? 

An invasive species can be any sort of living organism such as an amphibian, insect, fish, bacteria, fungus or plant. Even organism's seeds or eggs can be classed as an invasive species if they aren't native to a particular ecosystem and cause harm. Harm can be caused to either the environment, human health or the economy. Species that also grow and reproduce quickly, spread aggressively and carry the threat of causing harm are labelled as 'invasive'. An important note to remember is that an invasive species doesn't have to come from another country in order for it to be classed as invasive. It only needs to be non-native to the area that it is found in. 

How do invasive species spread?

Invasive species are primarily spread as a result of human activities, often by mistake. People, and the goods that they use, are able to travel around the world very quickly and often carry with them uninvited species. Ships can transport aquatic organisms within their ballast water, while smaller boats may carry them on their propellers. Insects can find their way into wood, crates and pallets that are shipped around the world. Some ornamental plants can escape into the wild and become invasive, just as Japanese knotweed did. Some invasive species can also be intentionally or mistakenly released pet, such as Burmese pythons in the Everglades

Impact on native wildlife 

As is the case with the Burmese pythons in Florida, invasive species can cause harm to native wildlife. When a new and aggressive species is brought into an ecosystem, it may not have any natural predators or controls to contend with, ultimately allowing them to roam free and behave in any way that they want, including breeding. Native wildlife may not have developed any defences against the newcomer, or they may simply not be able to compete with a species that has no predators.

The direct threats that come with an invasive species include out-competing native species for food and other resources, preying on native species, causing or transporting diseases and preventing native species from reproducing. There are also indirect threats related to any invasive species such as changing the food web in an ecosystem by replacing or damaging native food sources, as we've seen with Japanese beetles in North America becoming a major pest for farmers growing crops such as grapes. They can also have an effect on the diversity of species that are important habitat for native wildlife. Aggressive plant species such as Japanese knotweed can quickly replace a diverse ecosystem with a monoculture of just knotweed. Additionally, some invasive species are capable of changing the conditions in an ecosystem, such as altering soil chemistry. 

As well as having a devastating impact on natural wildlife, invasive species can affect local infrastructure and economies. Read how Japanese knotweed ravaged a housing estate in our blog below. 

Japanese Knotweed Ravages Housing Estate >

 

If you have spotted an invasive species on or near your property, such as Japanese knotweed, you can get in touch with the team here at Taylor Total Weed Control today to gain expert advice and even treatment. Call us on 02920 397 554 or email us at sales@talortwc.co.uk

Salt spilling from a salt shaker

Salt is very versatile - it can make virtually any meal taste better - but sadly, there are some problems that salt can't solve.

You may have heard that salt can be used to kill garden weeds, and there is some truth to that. Applying salt to an unwanted plant can cause the plant to dehydrate and ultimately die.

But should you actually try this? The RHS don't recommend it: "The use of bleach or salt to kill weed on paths and drives is strongly discouraged, as this can cause pollution and damage plants."

Besides, Japanese knotweed is no run-of-the-mill garden weed. It takes a lot to eradicate this invasive species once and for all - a mere sprinkling of salt just won't do it!

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PCA registered Japanese knotweed specialists

The Environment Agency's Japanese knotweed code of practice was originally published in 2006. After several revisions, the publication was withdrawn on 11 July 2016:

"This guidance has been withdrawn from use because the Environment Agency no longer provides best practice guidance."

However, the Property Care Association - the UK's trade association for specialists who deal with problems that affect buildings - published its own code of practice in April 2018.

(Note that the PCA's code of practice is NOT the law. It is merely a document that explains the best practices for controlling Japanese knotweed. If you're looking for official government guidance and legislation, see gov.uk's page on how to stop invasive plants from spreading.)

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Summer's here, which means that Japanese knotweed plants in the UK are currently in the most aggressive phase of their growing cycle (see When Does Japanese Knotweed Grow? for more information on that).

Japanese knotweed

Photo by Leonora Enking (View Original)

Japanese knotweed is at its most visible during the summer, so now is the time to have a look outside and make sure this invasive plant species is not growing on your property.

What is Japanese Knotweed?   Identifying Japanese Knotweed

Here are five common Japanese knotweed signs to watch out for...

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Japanese knotweed, an invasive plant species

Japanese knotweed can be found all over the UK. Many British homeowners have had problems with this invasive plant species, but it is also abundant in the wild - on roadsides and near railway lines, for example.

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Ecologists are already employing all sorts of different tactics to get the UK's Japanese knotweed problem under control (perhaps you remember our recent blog post about the sniffer dogs who'd been trained for this purpose). But it's hard to defeat an enemy whose location is unclear, and one big hurdle in the fight against Japanese knotweed is the fact we don't know exactly how widespread the plant is.

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Artificial Grass

You might be surprised to read this, but artificial grass is not immune to weeds. True, a fake lawn requires less maintenance than a real one, but going artificial doesn't necessarily mean that you'll never have to worry about weeds again.

As a general rule, you will only ever notice weeds growing around the edge of your artificial lawn, although it is possible for weeds to push through from beneath - especially if your fake grass was installed without a weed-resistant membrane.

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Counting time on a watch

SHORT ANSWER: Japanese knotweed can grow up to 10cm per day during the summer months.

Japanese knotweed has a reputation for fast, aggressive growth. Not only can this invasive plant species grow through cracks in brickwork and concrete, it can do so with rather frightening speed!

Japanese knotweed's growth rate depends on the time of year. As we've discussed previously (see When Does Japanese Knotweed Grow?) the plant goes dormant during the winter months, then re-emerges in the spring.

Summer is when the plant hits its top growing speed. Japanese knotweed loves warm weather, and it has been known to grow by as much as 10cm per day during the summer months!

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Playing field maintenance

If your school's playing fields have seen better days, we at Taylor Total Weed Control may be able to help.

We offer a professional grounds maintenance service throughout South Wales and South West England. Whether you need us to provide occasional support for your in-house groundskeeping staff or a regular, comprehensive grounds maintenance service, we have the expertise and equipment necessary to keep your playing fields in tip-top condition.

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Like an unwanted house guest, Japanese knotweed can be difficult to get rid of. Patience and persistence are key to getting the job done properly.

Japanese knotweed plant

Photo by Leonora Enking (View Original)

As we discussed in our blog about Japanese knotweed's growing cycle, this invasive species may appear to die off completely during the winter months. But appearances can be deceptive.

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It's lovely having a patio - especially when there's a pandemic in progress and the government are saying that you can't leave the house - but it's not quite so lovely when you notice furry green moss growing in between your patio pavers.

Patio moss

Photo by Amy G (Flickr)

Unfortunately, moss is a very common problem on patios - especially in the UK, where the damp weather often creates ideal growing conditions for this unsightly pest of a plant.

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