|Privet (Ligustrum sinense) thicket at a stream|
Privet (Ligustrum sp.) is a serious invasive pest in the Southeast, with large populations in forest land (over 1 million hectares in 2008) as well private land and roadsides. Another upcoming invasive shrub in my area is Elaeagnus sp., and I’m starting to see very dense thickets of it forming where humans take no action to control it. Both of these affect the amount of light and open ground (for nesting bees) in an area and reduce the amount of sunlight available to native herbaceous plants, reducing the diversity of plants and pollinators. There are some who would argue that privet flowers themselves support bees, but “Although privet may be an abundant floral resource in late spring, heavy infestations with dense shrub canopies severely limit abundance and richness of pollinators by decreasing availability of sunlight.”
I am including some of the interesting parts of the study; feel free to read it directly at the source here. The detail, resources, and references are worth exploring.
The study measured pollinator populations 5 years after removal of the privet in the study areas (completed by 2007 after cutting in 2005 and treating sprouts in December 2006); the study was completed in 2012. The study areas differed on how the privet was removed: by either mechanical mulching or hand-felling. The sampling method for this study is described as: “Bees and butterflies were sampled for one week out of each month from March to October 2012 on mulched, hand-felling, control, and desired future condition plots.” The information collected in 2012 was compared to a previous study in 2007 on the same plots. “This is the first study showing that these immediate responses of the pollinator communities to disturbance continue for at least five years despite secondary plant succession.”
So for those of you out fighting the good fight – keep fighting. It’s worth it to the creatures that need us the most.