Why is it a problem?
As a climbing vine, it grows rapidly and smothers crops. This often suppresses the growth of the crop and can kill the host plant. This not only has a negative impact on biodiversity, but it also can ruin the livelihoods of people who live within forest communities, as they rely on the growth of the crops which Mikania smothers.
The spread of Mikania can also take over the habitat of mammals such as rhinos, tigers and antelope. This caused them to migrate to other areas where there is no regulation to protect them from poaching.
- Reduced resources (eg. fodder)
- Loss of large mammal habitat
- Reduces native biodiversity
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
What’s the solution
In Malaysia, it has been found that the grazing of Dorset Horn sheep can aid control efforts. Especially when a herb layer is established along the ground, as this helps to prevent germination of seeds. However, attempts of both chemical and mechanical control have proved to be expensive and inefficient.
Research into natural enemies of the plant suggested that there were nine insects that could serve as possible biocontrol agents. Of these, a species of Thrip called Liothrips mikaniae was suggested to tackle the weed. Unfortunately all of the releases failed, as the Thrips fell prey to native spiders and ants. Further research into a possible rust fungus (Puccinia spegazzinii) is being carried out.