There is perhaps no bigger threat to mosquito surveillance, treatment and biodiversity in our upland, brackish and salt marshes than that posed by invasive species like Phragmites (Phragmites australis) or Common Reed. Recently the District’s invasive species control efforts have expanded to include Perennial Pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium) or pepperweed, a noxious non-native that has invaded our salt marshes and is very difficult to treat.
Phragmites australis marches seaward - Marblehead
Phragmites stands are typically dense and impenetrable to predatory fish and Field Technicians alike. This hinders and in many cases prohibits mosquito control professionals from sampling and treating mosquitos found in this habitat. Phragmites stands are a tremendous fire hazard for those living or working in or near them. The District has conducted Phragmites mowing services for many years as a means to provide safer and efficient access for District Field Technicians to underlying mosquito habitat as well as a fire suppression tool.
Mowing for Mosquito Surveillance and Fire Suppression ~ Revere
More recently the District has partnered with the Great Marsh Revitalization Task Force in an effort to prevent loss of vital salt marsh habitat in The Great Marsh. Flail mowing of herbicide-treated phragmites helps to relieve the over-story burden, reduces competition for valuable resources and allows for germination of “native” plant seeds, and allows access of natural mosquito predators. Mowing ensures that District Field Technicians have safe access and unobstructed view of the underlying habitat for efficient mosquito surveillance and treatment. Great Marsh Revitalization Task Force
Mowing reveals mosquito habitat - Revere]
Dipper of Mosquitoes in Phragmites - Revere
The District is a founding member of the MA-NH-ME Invasive Group which identified Pepperweed early on as a significant threat to our regions salt marsh resilience and diversity. As is with many invasive species if pepperweed is left unchecked it will continue to expand into brackish and freshwater habitats. When invasive species are present, wetlands management projects become more complex and costly.
Emerging Pepperweed ~ Early Spring
Pepperweed in full bloom – Mid to Late June
Pepperweed - Winter
The District has been an instrumental partner in the effort to control Pepperweed in The Great Marsh with approved chemical treatments. See our list of herbicides for more information.
Spraying Pepperweed in The Great Marsh - Newbury
The District has also played an essential role in helping to hand-pull infestations of Pepperweed in the Great Marsh and elsewhere in the District’s territory.
Roadside Pepperweed over the Little River, Newbury - Pre-pull
Pulling Volunteers ~ hauling bags of Pepperweed ~ Ipswich Salt Marsh
Helpful Links to Invasive Plants Information