Alligator weed, Alternanthera philoxeroides, also known as alligatorweed or pig weed, is native to South America and is an invasive weed that can overtake ponds, lakes, streams, and canals within the United States.
Invasive species can quickly become a problem without the natural controls found in their native environment. Alligator weed forms dense mats within bodies of water and along shorelines and crowds-out native vegetation. Recreational activities, such as boating, fishing, and swimming, become difficult and oftentimes impossible in water infested with alligator weed. The weed also blocks intake valves and drains.
The best approach to controlling alligator weed is to catch it early. Once this weed is established, it is difficult and expensive to eliminate. When you notice that alligator weed is present, it is best to get it under control as soon as possible in order to minimize its damage to the ecosystem and reduce costs of treatment.
There are multiple approaches to controlling alligator weed. Biological controls include the alligator weed flea and the alligator weed thrips that feed on alligator weed. Physical controls include mowing the weed along the shoreline or draining the water body and mowing. However, this method is often only temporary because the root system of the plant is still in place. The most effective, long-term control is often herbicide. AquaPro, Habitat, and Renovate are systemic herbicides specifically made for aquatic environments and won’t harm fish, livestock, or humans. Systemic herbicides are absorbed by the plant and inhibit growth. Early or late season applications are best.
The long-term costs of not controlling alligator weed or waiting until it becomes a major problem far outweigh the cost of treatment. Uncontrolled alligator weed can cause permanent damage to an ecosystem, resulting in long-term financial burdens.
The cost to treat alligator weed will depend on your specific situation and the time it takes to get it under control. Treatment solutions are long-term.
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