invasion imageCommon ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, is an invasive plant which is spreading across Europe. Because of illness caused by its allergenic pollen and competition with crops, it’s costing Europe an estimated €4.5 billion a year. The solution may lie with releasing non-native beetles. In this activity students evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using biological control to halt the invasion of this alien plant.

Science objective

Ecosystems (Interdependence): Suggest what might happen when an unfamiliar species is introduced into a food web (KS3 Science Syllabus)

Designed for the KS3 Science SyllabusEnquiry objective

Examine consequences: Identify possible consequences to particular habitats and animals (KS3 Science Syllabus)

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Running the activity

Starter The scenario is introduced. Should we use insects to control the spread of ragweed in Europe?
Main Students find out information about ragweed and the beetle. They discuss advantages and disadvantages to come to a decision.
Plenary Students share their final decisions.

For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.


Independent news article

Information from the BBC

Because ragweed needs a warm climate it is not considered a major problem in the UK – yet. It has been predicted that due to climate change ragweed populations could soon spread in northern Europe.

There are isolated populations in the UK but they are under control. However, the pollen can travel hundreds of kilometres so people are already suffering from the allergenic affects caused by ragweed growing on mainland Europe.

Video introduction about Ragweed

You may wish to play a short section (4:42-6:43) when showing slide 4. In French with English subtitles.

Further information about Ragweed

Including downloadable information in different languages.

Background reading

Article about biological control of ragweed for teachers.

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