Anatomy of a medusahead invasion

An annual grass worse than cheatgrass

Medusahead grass has the ability to take over a landscape like cheatgrass but nothing will eat it after it dies and dries out in the early summer months. It is becoming a huge problem in some areas and I’ve seen allotments with vast expanses where it is about the only thing that grows. Of course, if you’re the BLM, what else is there to do but renew the grazing permit and continue the degradation?

Anatomy of a medusahead invasion.
High Country News

Livestock–the elephant in the room when it comes to weeds

The role livestock plays spreading wildlife harming weeds in the Rockies should be obvious-

Livestock–the elephant in the room when it comes to weeds. By George Wuerthner. New West.

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My comments:

Weeds are of great harm to ungulates.

Rangeland cattle in particular are culprits. They cause bare patches of soil where weeds get started. They trample the seeds in.  They move them to new places in their cow flops. I took this photo last year and posted it here.  I think it makes the point.

How do burrs get spread?

Here’s a classic-

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I got a new camera today. I headed to the mountains south of Pocatello to try it out and came back with a disgusting photo (as well as some attractive landscapes).

cow-w-weed-seeds

Pretty much all the cows looked more or less like this poor critter on the Caribou National Forest. Every year on this grazing allotment there are more burrs, and I think we see the explanation. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan, but permission to repost is granted with my credit

Unanticipated effects of using gall-flies to control spotted knapweed

We have talked a lot about knapweed on this forum because of its negative consequences for wildlife habitat.

Biocontrol has been pushed as an alternative to herbicides, but this is bad news.

“ScienceDaily (Sep. 5, 2008) — Biocontrol agents, such as insects, are often released outside of their native ranges to control invasive plants.”

Read the rest below.

Biocontrol Insect Exacerbates an Invasive Weed.

I should add that deer mice are also the primary carriers of hantavirus.

It should also be noted that many other kinds of biocontrols are being used on knapweed, not gall-flies alone.

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A good related letter on elk, deer, moose, wolves and knapweed. Missoulian. “Knapweed is also taking a toll on deer, elk.

Posted in invasive species, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Unanticipated effects of using gall-flies to control spotted knapweed

Waging war on weeds

The Casper Star Tribune highlights an important threat to wildlife habitat – weeds:

Waging war on weeds

The article gives a pretty good indication of the extent to which different weeds threaten wildlife habitat and are an economic scourge – but I will take issue with one statement made in the article :

Native plants have no built-in defense mechanisms against noxious weeds, which spread like a slow wildfire, squeezing out native plants one by one.

This statement is just not true – and it’s a pretty neat thing why it’s not true :

Read the rest of this entry »