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Herbicide Ballistic Technology

Miconia, an invasive weed, is taking over large portions of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Forget manual weeding and mowing. In Hawaii, researchers are blasting invasive plant species with paint ball guns loaded with herbicide pellets. Called "Herbicide Ballistic Technology," Hawaii News Now reported the deadly, explosive balls will help battle miconia, an invasive weed with a foothold throughout the Big Island's most wild and remote corners

Miconia's large leaves can block out sunlight for smaller plants, and its shallow root systems can increase erosion. A single miconia plant can produce 8 million seeds a year. The jungly terrain where miconia likes to invade justifies the paintball strategy.

Scientists with the guns are taken up in helicopters, allowing them to accurately and surgically target specific miconia plants in hard to access places while using a minimal amount of herbicide.

In some areas, paintball gun-wielding researchers report that miconia populations have been reduced by 80 percent by using this Rambo-like approach to habitat management.

Managers working in other parts of the country hoping to blast some kudzu, English ivy or garlic mustard into oblivion will be disappointed to learn that, at least so far, the USDA has only approved that paintball annihilation method for use in Hawaii.

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November 13, 2019, 7:23 pm PDT

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