In most wetlands of Rhode Island, you will find exotic Phragmites (P. australis subsp. australis), also known as the common reed, as pictured in Figure 1. Exotic Phragmites is an invasive species of reed in North America that spreads quickly and forms dense growths which can quickly out-compete other native species. This rapidly decreases the habitat for native wildlife and can hinder human movement through wetlands.
There are currently no permanent solutions to deal with this weed, but biocontrol is a promising long-term option. URI has been working with Cornell University and others on developing a biocontrol program for exotic Phragmites. There are two species of moth that are specific to Phragmites that show promise as biological control agents. The larvae of both Archanara neurica and A. geminipuncta are native to Europe and parts of the Middle East where they are found feeding internally on stems of P. australis subsp. australis.
URI Student Posters
Herbivores on Phragmites in North America
Potential for Biological Control of Phragmites australis in North America
Performance of a Native Butterfly and Introduced Moth on Native and Introduced Lineages of Phragmities australis
Distribution of Native and Exotic Phragmities australis in Rhode Island