Scientists use insect to deal with weed problem

An example of how garden and greenhouse enthusiasts can use nature to their advantage can be seen in the action taken by British Waterways in Somerset.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the firm has struggled with invasive weed Azolla filiculoides – also known as water fern – in recent times and has turned to a tiny predator for assistance.

The weevil, which measures just two millimetres in length, is being used to deal with the troublesome plant, which is clogging up Maunsel Lock on the Bridgewater and Taunton Canal.

First introduced by the Victorians as an ornamental pond plant, the species escaped into rivers and canals, causing mischief by choking out oxygen, killing fish and other wildlife.

The organisation hopes that the azolla weevil can help to tackle the weed before the problem worsens.

Fortunately, it eats nothing but the water fern, so releasing thousands of them into the canal may help to deal with the issue without requiring chemicals.

"Introducing weevils to the canal acts as a natural pre-emptive strike in getting rid of this weed," British Waterways ecologist Robert Randall told the RHS.

In other gardening news, the RHS reported that the 150-year-old tree made famous in the diaries of Anne Frank has been toppled by a storm.