What you are seeing here is the Air Potato Vine. It is technically labelled an "invasive species" in Florida. The reality is that it's a curse.
Some idiot probably imported this to our state, too.
We are a state of many morons. This is seen through the massive Confederate Flag that is waving over the interstate in Tampa, the ballot problems in the Presidential elections (there are certainly more to come), and the politics and lack of education here. So, it's no surprise to know that over the many years that Florida has existed, many well-meaning morons have populated it.
Morons don't understand ecosystems. In the past, they've filled in valuable marshy areas to build shopping malls, banned car emissions testing (who cares? It'll probably blow to Mexico!), imported the obnoxious love bug, fire ants, the poisonous buffo toad, iguanas, and more. In fact, a couple of years ago, we ran across a cobra who had undoubtedly been in someone's private collection at one time. Whether it had been let go or simply escaped is inconsequential.
Additionally, you'll find the people who think they're doing us a favor by bringing in a "pretty ornamental" that will take over and destroy all the native wildlife. That includes the Brazilian Pepper Tree (our state fights an ongoing battle with this nuisance), the Kudzu Vine (which can grow up a tree and strangle it within days), and the Air Potato Vine.
The Air Potato Vine made it's debut in my backyard a couple of years ago. I had never seen one before, and I initially thought the leaves were quite pretty. They're big, beautiful heart-shaped leaves with tendrils that elegantly wind up anything and then strangle the life out of it.
Spraying the Air Potato with weed killer helps, but it doesn't solve the problem since it develops these big tubers that hang from it. When the tubers get so big that they can drop, they drop to where they can start yet another vine.
To add insult to injury, the potatos aren't even edible.
Eradicating the Air Potato has become a major concern for the state government. They've spent a fortune to do so, recently, and are now able to report success. They've used a combination of poison and ready volunteers, who hunt down every potato they can find.
I could use some of those volunteers.
For the last couple of weeks, I've been outside, poisoning the Air Potato vines with RoundUp. I hope it will work. Supposedly RoundUp screws with a plant's metabolism and kills it at the root... eventually.
But my additional problem is that there is a large abandoned house behind my property. I don't know why it's not for sale, and I don't know how to get in touch with the owners. That house has a massive swimming pool that is now a mucky greeny-brown, full of tadpoles and mosquito larvae. In addition, it houses a great deal of these Air Potatoes.
It's my fault, really.
The family behind me was a very nasty sort. They were the rough and tumble ruddy-faced, chain-smoking, hard drinking types. How they could afford a nice house was beyond my understanding. Even the 12 year old boy smoked and drank beer, throwing his beer bottles over the fence into my back yard to conceal his habit from his parents. When I finally went over to have a friendly chat with his mom about this habit, she got very angry about it and accused my neighbor, Mr. Clean, of doing it. It really boggled the mind.
So, when they suddenly left, I didn't mourn their loss. And when their Air Potato vines kept creeping into my yard, I'd throw the potatos back over the fence into theirs. I figured that they'd be maintaining their property until it sold and that they could take care of their own problem.
No such luck.
So, their Air Potato problem has become vastly worse. So have the mosquitos.
Today, it was time for action.
I purchased mosquito dunks (which float in the water and kill the larvae) and more RoundUp and went over there today. I threw 6 mosquito dunks into the swamp that used to be a swimming pool, and enjoyed watching the tadpoles for a little bit. Then I grabbed the RoundUp and attacked all the Air Potato vines.
It was carnage.
Now I sit back and wait. Hopefully the RoundUp will do what it needs to do, and I'll get a break from this Air Potato battle.
In the meantime, I wonder about something: What happened to my neighbors, and what could be lurking in the depths of that pool?