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Washington University researchers tackle invasive plants

Garlic Mustard
Garlic Mustard

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – A Washington University research team has received federal funding to study new methods of controlling and eliminating invasive species.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are developing a model that targets small populations of invasive garlic mustard before honing in on big clusters.

The idea is that small populations often spread quicker then larger ones.

Dr. Tiffany Knight says that by eliminating those smaller populations first, they can better contain the over-all spread of certain invasive plants.

"What we're working on with garlic mustard," says Knight, "is a plan where, if you can focus your efforts on satellite individuals that are just at the front of where the population is spreading...it might be a more efficient method which saves time and money of managers."

Garlic mustard is a European plant that came to the United States as an herb in the 1800's. It spreads by out-competing native plants on the forest floor.

The department of agriculture is banking on the idea that a method which effectively controls garlic mustard might be applied to agricultural pests as well.

Every year the United States spends upwards of 120 billion dollars controlling and managing damage from invasive species.