The other evening I had sat down to watch the early evening news and suddenly did a double take: was that the banks of the middle reaches of the Tamar I was seeing? Yes it was as it turned out. The beeb have been doing a short series on the national news about alien species in this country and it was Japanese Knotweed, which appears to love riverbanks amongst other places, that was the subject of their attention. In Devon and Cornwall we have more than our fair share of this awful weed and the film showed some experts cruising along the river in 'Gloria' owned by the Calstock Ferryboat Company. I couldn't see whether it was Josh or Alec doing the 'driving', should I bump into them there might be a bit of leg pulling - appearing on national TV, whatever next! Incidentally I have a special feeling for that boat as 'Gloria' was built in the year I was born, although she has moved about a bit before finding a home on the Tamar. I think that she has withstood the passage of time better than me!
Japanese Knotweed is particularly in the news this week with the announcement that we are looking to import a very small (about 2mm in size) insect that just happens to love eating this particular plant. Those in the know have tested them with other plants but no it is the Knotweed that they go for. Now bringing in an alien to deal with the control of another alien may ring a few alarm bells, one just has to hope that the experts have got it right. Turning to a biological solution to deal with a problem like this would seem to be the right way to go though, presumably this is how the dreaded Knotweed stays in check in Japan.
It's a great pity that the Victorians had this mania for bringing exotic species into this country.