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Natural Solutions to Invasive Plants


a small black insect emerges from the stem of a vertical green plant

Invasive plants pose serious threats to both our agriculture and our ecosystems. One of the biggest threats is the way these plants can drain water supplies, by consuming large amounts of available water that would otherwise support local plants and crops. In the southwestern U.S., the fast-growing Arundo plant has become one of the worst offenders. 

To address the problem without using chemical sprays, ARS scientists are identifying insects that can feed on and kill the Arundo plant. Importantly, these host-specific insects will not harm other plants or negatively affect the ecosystem in those areas. This is the first biocontrol project targeting an invasive grass. Watch this video to learn more about how scientists are zeroing in on safe, natural biocontrol approaches to combat the Arundo plant.