Thursday, June 13, 2013

How Do You Tell Your Neighbor They're Infested?

Infested with what? Not termites, carpenter ants, bedbugs or lice. Oriental bittersweet!

Most of us here in Glastonbury adhere to the fine old New England tradition of respecting our neighbor's privacy. If a neighbor's junk pile of stuff that is no longer recognizable becomes a main feature of the view from our deck, we might mention it with the greatest of tact. If nothing changes we might look the other way, offer help with removing it, or perhaps cut to the chase and plant a hedge!

We can at least take solace in knowing that tacky is not contagious. It isn't spread by berries and doesn't have roots and vines that will just grow through the hedge into our property.

Then there's oriental bittersweet. It is highly contagious from property to property. Berries are eaten and spread by birds; roots can travel many feet under fences and pop up on a neighbor's property. Vines will grow into trees then spread into neighboring trees and drop berries, producing more vines.

The result is that some of us work hard and spend time keeping our property from becoming infested, only to face an endless supply of new infestation due to a neighbor's unintentional ignorance or neglect.

How DO you tell a neighbor their property is infested? How do you educate a friend or neighbor on the damage the vines will cause on their own property, and how that contributes to widening the infestation and damage to other peoples' property? Do you talk about the impact on property values when trees die and an entire neighborhood is visibly infested? Do you organize an intervention?

The better you know your neighbor the easier it is to bring up the topic in a friendly, constructive way. We already know the excuses- ignorance, time, money, l-a-z-y and "who cares?" Some neighbors may be physically unable to deal with the problem and financially unable to pay someone else to do it. How can we help them?

This post doesn't claim to know the answer. One thing is for certain. Containing the spread of damage caused by oriental bittersweet depends heavily on neighbor educating and helping neighbor.

What are your ideas on how to educate a neighbor?


  1. Print out the oriental bittersweet fact sheet (see Links page) then write on the fact sheet, and bring it with you when you talk with them?

  2. Just be a good neighbor and talk to them. Then show them the area you're concerned about. Wheh they ask "What should I do?" offer to email them the blogspot fact sheet as well as invite them toe watch the video on the Invasives page That 4 minute video is sure to get their attention!