Cane toads and kudzu

Asalaam alaikum!

I hope everyone’s Ramadan is going well and that everyone’s fasts are acceptable to Allah.  Emoji
Didja ever fly into the United States (on an airplane and not by flapping your arms Emoji) and wonder why the the Customs agent asked if you and your parents were bringing any seeds or plants into the country?  Well, there is a very good reason for that!
You see, Allah made plants and animals with natural enemies, which basically means that the population of a particular plant or animal has something (or some things) that keep it in check.  For example, cats eat mice, right?  Without cats, there would be more mice than we could shake a stick at!  (Definitely more than the Cuties would be able to handle on their own…)
Wild animals in different parts of the world have things that keep the population in check.  This cane toad (from Wikipedia Commons) is native to South America, and other cane toads are native to North and South America.  Well, someone got the bright idea to take about 100 cane toads to Australia to eat some pesky bugs there, and you know what happened?  The toads started multiplying, and there are about a million there now!  What happened?  Well, there are no animals to eat the toads in Australia, because you know what?  They’re poisonous to most animals!
But, there are many animals that are native to North America and South America that like to eat cane toads and won’t get hurt by their poison.  (Before you ask, “Why not just take some of those animals to Australia too?” do what Mama would say and think that one out to its logical conclusion.) Here’s more information from National Geographic about cane toads.
File:Bufo marinus01e.jpg
So what about plants?  The same type of thing can happen– but the natural enemy could be the animal that usually eats the plant, or it might be a microorganism that doesn’t exist in the new habitat.  Or, it could be something that the plant has that helps it just survive in its old habitat, but go nuts in its new habitat.
Have you ever seen kudzu? If you have ever visited the Southeast, you probably have.  It looks like ivy and it coats almost everything it touches– homes and trees and ground cover– it’s not picky.  It can grow a foot a day, and it smothers every plant it touches.
source: Wikiedia

source: Wikiedia

Well, kudzu was brought from Japan. Unlike many American plants, it developed a “symbiotic relationship” with American bacteria that produces nitrogen.  “Symbiotic” means something like “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. The bacteria lives off the kudzu, and the kudzu uses the nitrogen that the bacteria produces to help it to grow and to spread like crazy cuckoo.
So, special steps need to be taken to keep the amount of kudzu down.  It’s used for animal grazing and to keep soil from eroding, but really, there’s waaaay too much of it.  Subhan Allah.
Remember that when you’re going through Customs, and you’re thinking, “why does he have to ask all those silly questions?  I wouldn’t DREAM of bringing back a live plant or seeds!”

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