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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Solution for Poison Ivy

What makes poison ivy so insidious is how well
it blends in with its surroundings
The summer has been a rainy one, which is wonderful in some ways but has also helped spread poison ivy.  Twice my neighbor has asked me to spray poison ivy outbreaks in her yard, and I've also had to spray it in mine.

The thing that makes poison ivy so insidious, is that it's a master of camouflage.   Amid Virginia Creeper, it will have dark leaves with serrated edges that look like Virginia Creeper; if it's growing amid Cross-Vine, it will have lighted-colored leaves and less noticeably serrated edges.  This is a good example of selective evolution at work.  When we kill the poison ivy we can spot, we leave behind the poison ivy we can't spot, over time inadvertently breeding species that blend in more and more successfully with their surroundings.  Eventually we will make it impossible to ferret out at all; it will be indistinguishable from common ivy, blackberries, even oak trees.  Everyone has had the experience of breaking out in poison ivy welts, having been unaware of having been in poison ivy.

I think the solution is to deliberately cultivate poison ivy that is easy to recognize.  Instead of killing the poison ivy we can see, we should only spray the plants that are the most difficult to detect.  If we see some poison ivy and think, "Whoa, poison ivy," we should leave it alone unless some other poison ivy comes along that is even more conspicuous.  I'm not saying this would happen overnight, and indeed generations would melt away before the project was complete, and - most importantly - we would need 100% cooperation from every person on the planet, but if we stuck to it, gradually poison ivy would become absolutely impossible to overlook: it might have bright mauve leaves with pink speckles, ideally with the words, "p-o-i-s-o-n-i-v-y" right on them.

Then, and only then, on a pre-agreed signal, everyone would go out on the same day and spray the poison ivy into extinction.

End of story.

1 comment:

  1. Or you can just do like I do: If it's green and I can get to it, spray the hell out of it. And not just with that sissy defoliant you can buy at WalMart. Go by one of those "Tractor Supply" shops and buy that big drum with the skull and crossbones all over it. Instead of mixing it one part defoliant to ten parts water, mix it about half and half. Spray the hell out of anything and everything in the yard. You won't have any poison ivy, poison oak, regular oak, Virginia Creeper, dandelions, grass, chipmunks, fire ants, and you'll even notice that the buzzards detour around your property instead of flying over it.
    The only negatives are that any plastic parts to your sprayer will melt, the ground water will smell and taste like kerosene, and the hand you sprayed with will glow in the dark.
    But that poison ivy will NOT be sassy. (At least, not until next spring.)