Invasive plant grows as bug fails to eat away the problem

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Specialists are focusing on education and outreach after a bug that was supposed to clear the way didn't really do the job.

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WCAX reported years ago how experts hoped the weevil would eat up the Eurasian watermilfoil problem in Vermont's waterways.

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation started working with the bug in 1989 and did away with the program in 2011/2012 after it didn't work as planned.

"There were a couple of cases where the weevils were introduced and there was some substantial reduction in Eurasian milfoil growth, although that wasn't true in years afterward," said Josh Mulhollem, an aquatic invasive species management coordinator. "The populations fluctuate a lot."

Mulhollem says not a lot of money was spent on the program, but it took a substantial amount of time for staff to individually pick weevils, rear them and then reintroduce them in Vermont waters.

Efforts are now focused on preventing the spread of invasive species, through things like mandatory boat inspections.

"The weevil program wasn't as successful as we thought it would be, so now we've really switched our efforts to spread prevention, education and outreach," said Mulhollem.