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Control Mechanisms

There are three main methods used for control of invasive species -- biological, mechanical, and chemical.

  • Biological control is the intentional manipulation of natural enemies by humans for the purpose of controlling pests.
  • Mechanical control includes mowing, hoeing, cultivation, and hand pulling.
  • Chemical control is the use of herbicides.

You can also use a combination of these three methods in an integrated weed management approach which some authorities would consider as the fourth method.


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Spotlights

  • Cornell University. Agriculture and Life Sciences.
    This guide provides photographs and descriptions of biological control (or biocontrol) agents of insect, disease, and weed pests in North America. It is also a tutorial on the concept and practice of biological control and integrated pest management (IPM). Whether you are an educator, a commercial grower, a student, a researcher, a land manager, or an extension or regulatory agent, we hope you will find this information useful.
  • Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation.

    This third edition has been specifically designed with water resource managers, water management associations, homeowners and customers and operators of aquatic plant management companies and districts in mind. The goal in preparing this handbook is to provide basic, scientifically sound information to assist decision makers with their water management questions.

  • Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service.
    There are two basic approaches to limiting the spread of invasive species: a species-by-species assessment of the risks or benefits of admitting or excluding species, and a policy based on controlling pathways of entry in which vigilance is maintained on incoming ballast tanks, cargo holds, packing materials, and similar vehicles for unwanted organisms. These two approaches may complement each other. Policymakers also may emphasize prevention over post hoc control or vice-versa, or they may adopt a combination of the two approaches. Congressional Research Service Report R44011.

Selected Resources

The section below contains selected highly relevant resources for this subject, organized by source. To view all related content for this subject, click on "View all resources for subject" in the top left of this page.

Council or Task Force

California Invasive Plant Council.
The goal of this report is to capture the current state of knowledge on the use of fire as a tool to manage invasive plants in wildlands. By providing a more thorough source of information on this topic, we hope this review facilitates improved decision making when considering the use of prescribed burning for the management of invasive plants.

Partnership

Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel.
Contains a compilation of known control methods for selected aquatic and wetland nuisance species.
USDA. ARS. Integrated Weed Management Resource Center.

The Integrated Weed Management (IWM) Resource Center is a place to find helpful, trustworthy resources on using integrated weed management for herbicide resistant weeds. Provides a clearinghouse of reliable educational resources necessary to integrate new weed management practices successfully, from trusted sources throughout the U.S.
See also: Explore questions and answers

DOI. U.S. Geological Survey; Great Lakes Commission; DOC. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
Invasive zebra and quagga mussels alter ecosystem dynamics and affect industrial, municipal, and recreational water users. The negative impacts of these dreissenid mussels drove scientists to search for effective control methods beginning in the early 1990s. Since then, researchers have uncovered various control methods, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Both chemical and physical treatments have been developed and used by state and federal agencies in the control of zebra mussels.
University of Connecticut. Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group.
This guide is intended to assist with identification of invasive plants and provide information on controlling these problem plants. Included are both non-chemical means of control as well as information on proper use of herbicides where chemical controls are needed. The choice of control measure depends on the size and nature of the infestation. If dealt with early enough, invasive plant problems can often be eliminated by non-chemical methods. However, a herbicide-based approach may be required to control an infestation that has become well established or widespread.
University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
National Information System for the Regional IPM Centers.
Provides various key contacts, coordinators and experts.

Federal Government

USDA. FS. Forest Health Protection.
The FHTET biological control program (FHTET-BC) is part of the broader Forest Service’s National Strategic Framework for Invasive Species Management as well as regional plans dealing with invasive species. The focus of the FHTET-BC is to demonstrate a strong leadership role in the development and implementation of biological control technologies to manage wide spread infestations of invasive species and to use biological control as a viable component for integrated invasive pest management efforts.

USDA. Agricultural Research Service.

Along the Rio Grande in Texas, tiny insects are taking a big bite out of an invasive weed that competes for limited water resources vital to agriculture and native vegetation. Several years ago, ARS scientists released two insect species as part of a biocontrol program to kill giant reed (Arundo donax).

BugwoodWiki.
Published by: USDA. Forest Service. Publication FHTET-2002-04.

USDA. FS. Invasive Species Program. 
 

 

Published by: USDA. FS. San Dimas Technology and Development Center; National Forest System Invasive Species Program, DOT, Federal Highway Administration; DOI, Fish and Wildlife Service. This video will help maintenance crews recognize and control noxious weeds along roadsides. Road crews that maintain any type road, from interstate highways to aggregate roads, are the frontline in preventing the spread of invasive plants. Note: The video links require Windows Media Player for .wmv files.

International Government

Transport Canada.

State and Local Government

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Academic

Kansas State University. Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service.
See also: Weed Management Publications for more resources
Oregon State University. Extension Service.
This handbook is intended as a ready reference guide to the control and management tactics for the more important plant diseases in the Pacific Northwest. The specific cultural, biological, and chemical recommendations are intended to manage a specific plant disease but may not always be appropriate under all production circumstances. The synthesis of a specific management recommendation should be done by a qualified individual. For this reason, this book should be used by—and has been expressly written for—county Extension agents, consultants, field and nursery people, and chemical industry representatives. Information in this publication is in a state of constant change.
University of Florida. IFAS. Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.
Comprehensive site why and how aquatic plants are managed in Florida waters. These five sections (why manage plants; overview of Florida waters, control methods, developing management plans, and research and outreach) will guide you through the many factors considered by Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission (FWC) biologists when developing aquatic plant management plans for Florida waters. Our priority is to manage invasive plants while also conserving and enhancing our unique aquatic habitats and wildlife communities.
University of Idaho. Rangeland Ecology and Management.
Prepared by: American Sheep Industry Association

Professional

National Academies. Transportation Research Board.
National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP Synthesis 363). This synthesis reviews federal, state, and regional approaches; prevention, early detection, and rapid responses; identification of aspects of operations and risks; statewide inventories; and information management. In particular, this report synthesizes the state of the practice in developing Integrated (Roadside) Vegetation Management, along with physical, chemical, biological, and cultural control mechanisms.

Weed Science Society of America.

Both scientists and regulators have had a lot to say about the growing problem of herbicide resistance and how weed management techniques need to change in response. But there have been few organized opportunities for farmers to make their voices heard and to share their experiences in managing herbicide-resistant weeds.