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Pests aren’t always insects or animals

To many of us, a pest is an insect that is making our lives uncomfortable.  Those darn mosquitos, for example.  They make it almost impossible to enjoy outdoor activities in warm, humid locations.  Not to mention the diseases they may carry and spread.  Pests may also be animals that are starting to make their way into our environments.  Mice and rats are common animals that are considered pests.  They can enter our homes and enjoy the food in our pantries.  They also spread disease.

Insects and animals are not the only types of pests.  Vegetation can also be considered a pest.  In Florida, where the temperatures and humidity encourage native vegetation to thrive, it also encourages non-native vegetation to grow.  Many species of plants have been introduced to the Florida landscape from all over the world.  These plants have taken hold in Florida and become extremely invasive.

One example, that everyone in the southeastern United States is familiar with, is Kudzu.  Kudzu was introduced to the United States in 1876 from Japan.  Kudzu is a climbing, coiling and trailing vine that spreads at a startling rate.  It loves the warm, humid, soggy conditions of the southeast and has taken over thousands of acres every year.  Kudzu is invasive and damages other vegetation by competing for resources.  It will quickly overtake other vegetation due to its rapid growth and kill that vegetation by shading it from the necessary sunlight to live.  Kudzu can be seen not only growing on low vegetation, but because it climbs, it grows over trees as well.

To control a vegetation pest, many will turn to pesticides.  Over the years, the chemicals in pesticides absorb into the ground and the local water supplies.  Thinking that destroying the invasive vegetation was beneficial, and it is, the chemicals also killed off native wildlife species and caused illness in humans.  Natural ways to try and control invasive vegetation have become necessary.

Some invasive plants can be used as food for grazing animals.  Natural control is always better than using dangerous chemicals.  Even controlling vegetation with natural means is a delicate balance.  Having more of a food source for certain animals will mean a spike in their population which may cause additional problems.

As with any type of pest issue, plant or animal, it is always best to do your homework before attempting to eradicate the problem yourself.  When in doubt, check with a pest control professional.  They are knowledgeable about the local environment and can help stop the problem without causing a new one.

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