Here are some things to watch out for in urban kudzu patches — we know, because we have encountered all of them!

When working along sidewalks and underpasses, and near parking lots, consider placing several orange cones at the edge of the sidewalk or curb area of your patch to alert drivers to unusual activity in the area and to remind volunteers not to step into traffic. Inexpensive orange vests worn by volunteers also draw attention to activity in the patch.
Fire Ants
Make a general survey of your patch area and mark any known ant mounds. Volunteers should always wear footgear that covers their ankles, long pants, long sleeves, and gloves. We have found new mounds of fire ants around the edges of polyethelene sheeting applications. Do a walk-around before rolling back sheeting applications that have been in place for a while.
Poison Ivy & Poison Oak
These grow right along with kudzu. Long sleeves, gloves, long pants, and knowledgeable volunteers go a long way to keeping exposure at a minimum. A good wash with Burtís Bees soap and water within an hour or so of exposure may help minimize reactions. Lanocane, an over the counter ointment, relieves the itch. In the field, a quick application of juice from Jewel Weed or from Plantain may prevent reaction from poison ivy. Crush leaves and stems and apply as a poultice to affected areas.
Pokeweed is sometimes associated with kudzu. It grows rapidly, with a rigid center stem that supports it own leaves and climbing kudzu. It becomes a scaffolding that allows kudzu to reach up into trees. Beware of the bright purple berries at the end of summer. They are laden with oxalic acid, which can be absorbed through clothing, leather gloves, and skin. Click here for more information.
Watch out! These fellows climb trees right along with kudzu. If you are rescuing trees, work with deliberation as you grab and pull vines down. Wear gloves and long sleeves. If you are wading through ground kudzu, move deliberately, because briars can tear both skin and cloth!
Falling Debris
As you rescue trees from climbing kudzu, look up and survey the canopy for broken boughs entangled in the web of vines. As you pull kudzu down, be prepared for a flurry of leaves, pieces of old vines, branches, insects, etc. Baseball caps, toboggans, safety glasses, and closed necked shirts are recommended.
Dust & Particulates
Consider using a dust mask or neckerchief over your nose and mouth if your work generates a great deal of dust or airborne particulates.
A spritz of repellent on wrists, bare arms, back of necks and edges of ears does much to ensure that you are not bugged by pesky insects. If you are hypersensitive to insect bites, give your cohorts a heads-up before you enter the patch.
Bees & Wasps & Ground Nesting Yellow Jackets
Heads-up if you spot a single fellow — you can continue to work with caution. However, if two or more show up, leave the area immediately. Make a note of the location, consider flagging it as warning to others, and come back in kudzuís dormant season. Alert other team members if you are hypersensitive to stinging insects.
Snakes are rarely seen in the monoculture under kudzu. Generally, these are beneficial creatures and will be leaving the patch by the time you spot them. Many of our snakes have been no bigger round than a pencil and less than 12 inches long. We have found that snakes may be attracted to the warm moist area underneath polyethylene sheets. Be attentive when rolling back sheeting that has been in place for a while. Give the fellows enough time and space and they will be gone.
Controlling kudzu in small compact urban or residential locations can be a workout. Limit your sessions in the patch to not more than an hour and a half. Assess time of day, temperature, humidity and your own stamina. Take frequent water breaks, even in the cooler dormant season. Consider bottled water standard working tool — pruning saw, hand plow, Pulaski, bottled water.
Step-Offs & Step-Ins
In unfamiliar areas, move with caution in patches covered with ground kudzu. It can hide uneven terrain and unexpected impediments like trash, broken bottles, and boards with nails.
Steep Slopes
Shoes or boots with a deep tread will help you maneuver along steeply sloping areas. Sports shoes with cleats are a good choice. As you work remember to lean into the slope, keep you center of gravity low, work from your knees or your seat, brace yourself against well anchored trees, shrubs, rocks, and with well anchored kudzu.
Sharp Edges
Be aware of sharp edges created when pruning branches to remove scaffolding. Consider tying brightly colored flags at the tips of new cut braches, especially those at chest and head level. Make cuts straight across at ground level when removing small trees, shubs, and tall grasses that can be used as scaffolding. Try not to leave stubs that can trip, puncture, and cut knees, hands, and seats.
Use tools carefully. You can inflict wounds to yourself or other as you work together. Keep up with your tools as you work through the patch. Kudzu debris obscures tools in a blink of the eye. Lost tools become a hazard to you now and later.
Litter is often associated with urban kudzu. Pick it up as you come across it. Carry it out as you leave. A five gallon bucket makes it easy to manage.
Time in the Patch
Having fun is a key part of coalition philosophy. Always leave the patch before you want to. Set a time limit, take breaks, and leave before your time is up.
Fire Hazard
In dense and compact patches, fire can ignite and spread quickly through kudzu that has died back with first frost or pre-treatment. Uncontrolled fire in kudzu infested urban areas is a threat to property, health, and economy.

Barbara Daniels
Updated December 2005