Science, Tech & Environment

Britain Turns to an Insect to Get Rid of an Invasive Plant

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A locomotive overgrown by knotweed. (Photo: Jaap Tamminga/Wikipedia)

In every garden there are weeds. Normally, you'd think of weeds as just plants where you don't want them, but for the Geo Quiz, we want you to identify the country that produced an invasive plant that's spread to Britain's four corners.

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It's tough enough to break pavement and concrete. And nearly 100 years ago it was a prized plant in the gardens of stately homes, but try to get rid of it and you've got problems. This Asian plant is usually found near volcanoes in its home country. Its full name gives us the answer, but if you're a gardener, the second half of its name, 'knotweed,' should be the biggest clue of all.

Japan is the answer to the Geo Quiz and the plant is called the Japanese knotweed. British scientists have a plan to get rid of it, but rather than turn to a native species, they are turning to an insect, which is fussy enough to only eat that plant. It's from the plant's native country: Japan.

The insect, called 'Aphalara itadori', is being brought into the United Kingdom to counter the destructive Japanese knotweed. Host Marco Werman talks to Dr. Dick Shaw, lead researcher for the project from the Oxford-based Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux International.

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