Special plant-killing bugs could be on their way to the UK to munch through a Japanese weed that’s taking over.
Japanese knotweed was brought to the UK more than 100 years ago because it looked good, but now it’s causing big problems. It grows really quickly, and once it gets going it can take over an area, killing the other plants within it.
Now scientists want to let loose a bug which literally sucks the life out of the weeds by feeding on its sap. The tiny 2mm-long creatures are called psyllid Aphalara itadori, but they don’t completely destroy the knotweed as if they did they would die out too.
Knotweed can grow up to three metres in just three months, and it’s so tough it can grow through walls, tarmac and solid concrete. In Japan, there are lots of other things that attack the knotweed, but scientists had to make sure that other plants already in the UK wouldn’t be harmed.