Monday, August 07, 2006


Yesterday, after my trip to the East Brunswick Butterfly Park, I headed to the Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary. This spot, owned by NJ Audubon, is a 2,500 acre forested sanctuary with a butterfly garden, a vernal pond, a river, and an amazing bookstore. It's probably the best place in NJ to see a Harvester, a very unique butterfly. I've never seen one and it turns out I was a few weeks late. I also looked in vain for some Harvester caterpillars that had been seen recently.

After exploring the grounds and finding a Clamp-tipped Emerald (a really cool dragonfly), I headed to the bookstore. I told the volunteer working there about my minimal discoveries and he told me of one of his own. He showed me a length of vine with interesting triangular leaves. The vine was covered in lots of small barbs. It turns out that this was the first specimen of Mile-a-Minute Weed found at Scherman-Hoffman. This sanctuary makes a huge effort to eradicate invasive species by burning, pulling, killing, and pretty much doing anything they can. They've also put up a deer exclosure to help revive the undergrowth of the forest. So, the discovery of an invasive like Mile-a-Minute Weed, which grows more like 2.5 feet per day, is disheartening.

Mile-a-Minute Weed is an alien from Asia that first arrived in Oregon around 1890. It arrived in the 1930's in York, Pennsylvania and has since spread to surrounding areas. Virginia is an especially hard hit area. The vine covers trees and blocks out light, killing the tree. Its self-pollinating nature makes it a prolific seeder. It's unfortunate that this awful plant has found its way into parts of NJ. Argh...I hate invasives!

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