Poison Ivy Control

Asked June 9, 2013, 3:15 AM EDT

We have a fair amount of poison ivy in our woods, fencerows and certain unmowed areas. As I react severely to it, I'm doing what I can to eradicate it. I cut the larger vines and carefully use glyphosate elsewhere. I've read in extension material that the urushiol can remain in the dead plant for more than a year. Would it be safe to assume that the urushiol would have broken down in two years? I'm trying to figure when I can re-enter treated areas without suffering ill effects (some of these spots have poison ivy "shrubs" 1-3' high).

Thanks in advance for your help.

Washtenaw County Michigan

1 Response

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that poison Ivy is very difficult to get rid of. It sounds like you have done all the right things to eradicate it, but all of the research I’ve done on the life span of urushiol has stated that it can stay effective for 1 to 5 years. The following are three statements I found: 1. 1 to 5 years is normal for urushiol oil to stay active on any surface including dead plants. 2. Even specimens of urushiol several centuries old have found to cause dermatitis in sensitive people, but generally Urushiol’s life expectancy on any surface - including dead plants - is 1 to 5 years. 3. The resin can remain on the dead plant and cause dermatitis for five years. So I guess it’s a gamble as to how long you wait before you can safely enter the area. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. For more information, check out this link: http://www.msue.msu.edu/objects/content_revision/download.cfm/revision_id.499688/workspace_id.-4/01500592.html/ Good luck. Feel free to contact us again if you have further questions.