to the Rescue
the sci-fi Blob that grew exponentially as it ate people, an unruly foreign
plant known as Giant Salvinia now threatens to blanket lakes in at least
12 states. The plant, found naturally in Brazil and Bolivia, floats on
water and grows unimaginably fast. Small lakes can be covered by dense
mats of the weed in days. Accumulating to a thicknesses of up to three
feet, the colonies block sunlight to waters below, killing indigenous
plants, bugs, and fish. The result is not only environmental destruction
but also devastation to the local economy and industries like fishing,
farming, and hydroelectric power. What's worse, recreational boaters
who trailer their boats from one lake to another are suspected of causing
most of the Salvinia's spreading.
plant has been an enormous problem in 12 countries and three continents,"
says Philip Tipping, PhD, a research entomologist at the U.S. Dept. of
Agriculture. "In the 1980s it brought the shipping industry in New
Guinea to its knees. Now it's here."
help is on the way. In October Tipping led a new assault on the vile vegetation.
He released more than 1,000 Australian weevils at lakes in Texas and Louisiana.
The insects, originally from Brazil, feed exclusively on the plant by
tunneling through its foliage and eating its terminal buds.
strategy has worked phenomenally in other places, including New Guinea.
But will they kill off the Giant Salvinia here? "I would expect
these insects to work extremely fast on this plant," Tipping says.
"But we'll have to wait and see."
meantime, Tipping says boaters should be careful to clean their hulls
thoroughly before hauling them to other lakes.
SHELVES: The Cruiser's Guide to Hurricane Survival
Every year hurricane season catches many boaters off guard. Now's
the perfect time to prepare yourself for this year's squalls. The
Cruiser's Guide to Hurricane Survival tells you how to weather
the biggest storms, whether you're at the dock, on the hook, or
coming in from sea. With tons of photos and diagrams, the book not only
helps you identify weather patterns from barometer and wind data, but
also how to protect your boat in any conditions. You can also order an
e-mail version of the book for $9.95 at www.cruisingguides.com.
$14.95, paperback. Cruising Guide Publications.
4. The Chesapeake Bay Boat Show in Baltimore. (212) 984-7000.
Jan. 31 - Feb. 3. The 19th-annual Hartford Boat Show in Hartford,
Connecticut. (860) 767-2645.
6-9. IBEX in Fort Lauderdale. (207) 359-4651.
13-18. The Grand Center Boat Show in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (800)
14-18. The Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami. (954) 764-7642.
14-20. The 59th-annual Miami International Boat Show. (305) 531-8410.
15-17. The 19th-annual Boat Show in Ocean City, Maryland. (410)
15-18. The Pennsylvania Boat Show in Philadelphia. (804) 288-5653.
21-24. The New Jersey Boat Show in Edison. (732) 449-4004.
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