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'Super invader' tree hits South, but flea beetle may be hero

6 years 2 weeks 21 hours ago Tuesday, November 14 2017 Nov 14, 2017 November 14, 2017 9:57 AM November 14, 2017 in News
Source: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS- Southern states appear to be losing ground to the Chinese tallow, a highly invasive tree overtaking forests from Texas to Florida.

Tallows are dangerous because they grow three times faster than most native hardwoods, outcompeting southern maples, oaks, elms and cypress for space and resources. T

allows also have no known insect predators in the U.S. At least not yet. Scientists are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the possible release of a beetle that eats tallow roots and leaves and spends its entire life cycle on the tree.

The "bio-control agent," a flea beetle from the tallow's native region of eastern China, could be released in the U.S. as early as next year.

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