After years of research, the tiny sap sucking insect Aphalara itadori is about to be released into the environment.
This is help tackle the advancing invasion of the superweed, Japanese knotweed. But is this the best way to fight it?
Japanese knotweed is a major problem for owners of infested land. It can cause immense damage to property, even growing through concrete, asphalt, within cavity walls and choking underground drains. Leading mortgage providers now refuse to provide loans secured against property infested with Japanese knotweed, causing significant devaluation.
Japanese knotweed does not respect boundaries. It spreads very rapidly, causing disputes amongst neighbours, and increasingly leading to litigation.
Personally as a leading expert witness in Japanese knotweed disputes, my views on the sap sucking bug are:
“If you have Japanese knotweed on your land you need to act fast to eradicate it. The bug could provide an effective low cost control method but is highly unlikely to result in complete eradication. In situations such as development sites and gardens eradication must be the ultimate objective to prevent damage to property, disputes and litigation. There are obvious environmental and financial risks associated with the release of the bug, which hopefully have been fully and correctly assessed by CABI, the organisation that carried out the research.”
Contrary to popular belief, there are tried and tested methods that can not just control but actually eradicate Japanese knotweed, with minimal environmental risk.
One such method is Xtract™, devised by Environet, a company operating nationally from their base in Cobham, Surrey. It is particularly suited where complete and immediate Japanese knotweed eradication is required, such as on development sites. It is an on site remediation method that removes all viable rhizome (the underground stem that causes re-growth) from the soil using specially designed and patent pending technology. The company leads the market in offering 10 year insurance backed guarantees underwritten at Lloyd's.
Other chemical and physical methods exist for the control or eradication of Japanese knotweed, all of which may have a role to play in the battle against this highly invasive weed. The bug may prove a useful addition where control over a long period is acceptable, but not where immediate eradication is required.