Several years ago, a commercial showed a young man offering a tub of margarine to a woman portraying Mother Nature. When Mom Nature was informed the stuff she had eaten was not fresh creamery butter, the weather turned very nasty. The moral was "Don't fool with Mother Nature." Often our attempts to better our environment, or mess with Mother Nature, have been very costly.
Ask any coastal farmer about water hyacinths and nutria. The water plant was imported from China. Some folks claim it was to be a food for gold fish and others claim it was an accident. Some say it was for ornamental purposes. What ever the reason, it clogs the water ways and has few natural enemies. To clear up the plant, the hyacinth eating nutria was introduced. Now the nutria loves to eat vegetation but not many things will eat nutria. When the hyacinth was somewhat under control, they found the nutria was out of control. They are hunted both for sport and for their fur, but they reproduce faster than they are killed and are a serious pest.
Down in Florida , some reptile collectors imported the poisonous Southeast Asian frog. The frog has poison glands on its skin and if large enough, will kill a dog or cat that catches them. To make matters even worse, the frogs like to eat dog and cat food! There are reports now of some so large, they have made children ill when they caught the frogs. Walking catfish and piranha are two other examples of messing with Mom Nature that have had disastrous results.
Over in Georgia and Alabama, they have problems with a plant called Kudzu. It was imported from Africa* to aid in erosion control. The rapidly growing vine will grow in marginal soil with little water and it has a very strong root system. The problem is, it grows so fast and spreads so far that it has become a pest rather than a boon. It has been known to collapse the roofs of sheds, break phone lines and cause fences to disappear. Some animals will eat the stuff, but not as fast as it can grow.
The fire ant and the African cross bred bees are two more examples of messing up the plan of things. Did you know starlings and English sparrows were both introduced to our country? Someone thought we should have the birds Shakespeare mentioned in his plays.
In our own area, Johnson grass may make good hay, but don't mulch your garden with it! We not only mulched the garden with Johnson grass hay, we dumped in two or three loads of cow manure from a Johnson grass fed herd. The stuff is almost impossible to eradicate. Bamboo is a plant that grows much like Johnson grass, with runners. It will take over an area if you let it get started. I know of a reservoir in the Rio Grand Valley that has almost disappeared because bamboo was planted to help hold the banks. It has taken over the whole area!
Some things have been beneficial when they get out of hand, but that's another story.
*Kudzu is actually from Japan. (pkg 2004)
© 2004 Sulfur Creek Enterprises