Popular plant causing problems

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - One of your favorite plants could be spreading diseases across Maine, and the state is doing something to try to stop it.

"Lyme disease has been increasing in Maine over the past 10-15 years, every year, more and more cases reported," says State Horticulturist Gary Fish.

Researchers have zeroed in on one of the main causes: the Japanese Barberry.

"It is shown in multiple studies that when you have Japanese barberry thickets, that you're going to have as much as 90% more ticks in those areas, and they're much more infected as well, with either lyme disease or antiplasma or babesiosis," says Fish.

This has caused the state to take action on this issue.

"Japanese barberry was banned this year for sale or for importation. It's not a plant that has to be pulled out if you already have it."

But Fish does recommend looking into getting rid of it.

"If you want to reduce the potential for Lyme disease, reduce the potential for deer ticks, it's best to think about removing it maybe in the long run and replacing maybe with a native plant."

Fish also recommends wearing tick-repellent when out in the woods for precaution.