How to kill small trees and brush
The Best Brush Killers of 2022
BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Depending on which area of the country you call home, a variety of brushwood species could be waiting to spread along your fence lines or grow into impassable thickets in your yard. Left to their own devices, brush—a combination of saplings, conifers, young trees, and invasive vines—can quickly encroach on little-used parts of the yard until you can ignore it no longer. Trying to chop and dig the weeds out is a labor-intensive task, and many brush varieties will regrow if any of the roots are still in place.
That’s where brush killers come in. This chemical herbicide is strong enough to tackle even invasive brushwood species to stop the invasion. Selecting the best brush killer for your needs will depend on the type of brush you need to get rid of, the extent of the problem, and your preferred method of application. Ahead, learn what to look for when buying a brush killer and find out why the following products are all excellent at eradicating tough weeds.
- BEST OVERALL: Roundup Ready-to-Use Tough Brush Killer with Sprayer
- RUNNER UP: Southern Ag CROSSBOW32 Weed & Brush Killer Herbicide
- BEST BUDGET: RM43 76502 Total Control Glyph Weed Preventer
- MOST VERSATILE: VPG Fertilome 32295 Brush Stump Killer
- BEST SPRAY BOTTLE: BioAdvanced 704645A Brush Killer Plus
- ALSO CONSIDER: Ortho 475705 GroundClear Tough Brush Killer with Wand
Photo: amazon.comWhat to Consider When Choosing the Best Brush Killer
The yard of a vacant home can become a mishmash of vines and wild bushes within a few short months. But by the time brush takes over, the time to maintain the yard with just a mower or a string trimmer has passed. Natural or organic weed killers may not be sufficient to tackle the job at that point either.
Getting rid of invasive brush once and for all calls for bringing out the big guns: potent chemical herbicides. Before buying, however, it’s important to think about the best type and application method for each situation and the safety considerations involved with various products.Type
Some types of brush killers are better suited than others to specific situations. Some folks have only a small area to clear, while others might have an acre or more. Fortunately, buyers have a choice.
- Ready-to-use: The simplest of all products to apply, ready-to-use brush killers are dispensed via pump-type sprayers or larger backpack-style or trailer-mounted sprayer tanks. Some ready-to-use products come in hand-spray bottles, but a larger sprayer is a better option for treating anything beyond just a few offending weeds.
- Liquid concentrate: Most brush-killing herbicides come in concentrated liquid form that users must dilute with water before filling in a sprayer. Concentrated herbicides are usually less expensive, coverage-wise, than ready-to-use products. Mixing it is an extra step, however, and requires precise measuring.
Most brush killers contain one or more of the following chemicals. All are efficient at killing shrubs and weeds, but they do have a few differences.
- Triclopyr: This is the most common chemical found in herbicides that are used to kill brush. Triclopyr is a selective herbicide, meaning it will kill only particular types of plants, such as broadleaf woody plants like locust, sweetgum, mesquite, and more. Because it won’t kill most types of turfgrass, it is well suited for clearing away brush in areas near lawns.
- Fluazifop: Found in brush killers that contain another herbicide, usually triclopyr, fluazifop is another selective herbicide. It targets thick, grassy undergrowth and various types of broadleaf weeds, such as invasive sedges. When used in combination, the two herbicides will kill most offending brush species.
- Glyphosate: Considered a nonselective herbicide because it targets all vegetation, including woody species, vines, and grasses, glyphosate is an effective and potent brush killer.
- 2,4-D is short for 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. 2,4-D is a well-known selective herbicide used to eradicate invasive broadleaf weeds. It’s often added to triclopyr to boost its effectiveness.
Applying an herbicide just before it rains can result in the product washing off the plant rather than killing it. To prevent this scenario, some of today’s herbicide products are designed to be rainproof within a few hours of application. Depending on the product, the time it takes for the herbicide to become rainproof can range from 30 minutes to up to 24 hours, so users should avoid applying the product when rain is imminent.Working Time
Patience pays off when using an herbicide to kill brush. Some types of brush, especially tender vines and grassy weeds, may begin wilting within a couple of days. Woody and thorny bushes with hardwood stems or trunks, though, may not show signs of dying for up to six weeks. Wait it out—there’s usually no need to reapply the herbicide. In some cases, the product’s label may even recommend against reapplication for a specific amount of time, such as 30 to 60 days.Safety
Commercial brush-killing products are considered to be safe when used as directed. Keep in mind that these are potent chemicals, and care is required when applying them—careful application protects the person doing the spraying as well as pets, children, and the environment.
Unlike using other products, such as laundry detergent or bleach, not following the usage instructions on an herbicide label may even be a federal offense. Herbicide labels bear this warning: “It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. ” It also makes good sense to follow some safe-application tips.
- Protect eyes and skin: Wear goggles, long sleeves, long pants, and a respirator mask when spraying brush with a potent herbicide. If any of the product gets on the skin, wash it off promptly.
- Don’t spray in the wind: Apply brush killer only on a calm day to avoid killing desirable plants with accidental overspray. Spraying on a still day also reduces the risk of skin exposure or inhaling the chemical. A good rule of thumb is not to spray if the wind is blowing over 8 miles per hour.
- Establish a kid-free zone: Brush killers and children don’t mix. Keep the kids away while spraying, and don’t allow them into the area until the manufacturer says it’s safe, which can range from an hour or two to up to a couple of weeks. The same goes with pets—no sense in taking any chances.
- Mix only as directed: While it may be appealing to use the herbicide at a higher concentration for added kill power, resist the temptation to do so. Not only does this come under the “violation of federal law” clause, but using too strong a mixture could render the soil unusable for months (or longer).
A brush killer should live up to its name: it should be potent enough to kill the offending varieties of brush. However, the best brush killer for one property may not be the best for another, so look for the type that best suits your particular needs. The following products will all kill most types of brush, and one or more is sure to be an asset in helping eradicate the woody overgrowth on your property.
Check Latest Price
Enjoy no mixing and no mess with RoundUp’s Ready-to-use Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer, which comes in a 1-gallon jug with its own handheld trigger sprayer (other spray options may be available). Roundup is a nonselective herbicide that contains glyphosate, so it does not discriminate when killing bushes, shrubs, and overgrowth. In addition to killing woody brush, this herbicide spray is well suited for killing poison ivy, invasive vines and saplings, and other noxious weeds.
The product is rainproof 30 minutes after spraying. Wilting of foliage is often visible within 24 hours, but it can take up to four weeks for woody shrubs to die completely. For best results, apply on a sunny day when the temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ready-to-use formula that comes with spray nozzle
- Rainproof for 30 minutes
- Large quantity; 1 gallon
- Kills a variety of harmful plants
- Best used on a sunny day
- Heavy weight
Check Latest Price
Featuring a potent combination of triclopyr and 2,4-D, Southern Ag’s CROSSBOW32 is a powerful ally in the quest to get rid of unwanted weeds. It kills many types of woody bushes, shrubs, and invasive vines, such as kudzu and poison ivy. When used as directed it won’t harm most turfgrass types, making it suitable for killing brush in areas near lawns.
This powerful, concentrated formula comes in a 32-ounce jug that requires dilution with water before application with a pump-type sprayer, backpack sprayer, or field sprayer. For best results, saturate foliage uniformly with the spray.
- Triclopyr and 2,4-D mixed formula
- Kills multiple harmful plant types
- Does not affect grass when applied
- No sprayer included
- Requires dilution before use
Check Latest Price
Getting a bit of brush-clearing help from an herbicide doesn’t have to cost a lot. The RM43 Total Control Glyph Weed Preventer comes in a concentrated liquid that tackles even tough brush and vines—and best of all, it’s affordable.
The liquid comes in a 32-ounce jug, and it’s rainproof two hours after application. The nonselective product can be diluted with water and applied via a pump-type sprayer or larger tank sprayer. For the best results, saturate foliage thoroughly.
RM43 also contains a weed preventer called Imazapyr. In addition to killing brush, RM43 can be applied to bare ground to prevent brush and vines from regrowing for up to one year.
- Glyphosate mix with imazapyr included for weed prevention
- Suitable for spot control
- Effective for 1 year after application
- Rainproof for 2 hours
- No sprayer included
- Requires dilution before use
Check Latest Price
The VPG Fertilome Brush and Stump Killer gets rid of woody plants, brush, scrub, and undergrowth, and it’s tough enough for use on stumps. The product comes in a 32-ounce bottle for diluting with water and can be applied with a pump-type sprayer, backpack sprayer, or even a handheld spray bottle if the weed-killing job is small. The solution should be used full strength when treating stumps.
Fertilome is a nonselective herbicide that kills a wide variety of woody brushes, including locust, kudzu, and box elder. It will also kill invasive weeds such as henbit, spurge, and vetch, which makes it suitable as an all-purpose herbicide for clearing out dense areas of overgrown weeds.
- Triclopyr and fertilome mix; all-purpose herbicide
- Ready-to-use formula
- Also suitable for vine and stump control
- Limited rain resistance
- Sprayer not included
- Requires dilution before use
Check Latest Price
Applying brush-killing herbicide is easy with BioAdvanced Brush Killer Plus. This nonselective, ready-to-use product comes in a 32-ounce bottle that features a standard garden hose connection on one end and a spray nozzle on the other. Getting rid of wild vines and woody brush is as simple as turning on the water and depressing the spray nozzle to emit a continuous stream of diluted herbicide.
The solution is rainproof after four hours, and it’s effective for killing stumps. BioAdvanced is well suited for treating poison ivy and noxious weeds along trails, fence lines, and wooded areas.
- Nonselective triclopyr formula
- Spray-bottle design
- Rainproof for 4 hours
- Kills over 70 harmful plant types
- Requires garden hose or sprayer (not included)
- Requires dilution before use
Check Latest Price
For easy application in a ready-to-use brush killer, consider Ortho GroundClear Tough Brush Killer. The herbicide is packaged in a large 1.33-gallon jug and comes with a comfort wand that directs a continuous stream of liquid brush for precise application—no pumping or bending necessary.
This selective herbicide will kill a wide array of offending vines and woody species, including kudzu, poison ivy, and more. The product is rainproof two hours after application. Wilting leaves can be seen as soon as 24 hours, although the complete killing of some woody plants may take up to six weeks.
- Strong triclopyr formula
- Comes with comfort wand sprayer
- Rainproof for 2 hours
- Kills multiple harmful plant types
- Heavy weight
- May take up to 6 weeks for full effect
With a ready-to-use formula, included spray nozzle, and large quantity per bottle, the Roundup option is our first pick for the best brush killer. Capable of killing multiple harmful plant varieties, this mix is rainproof for over 30 minutes and provides visible results in just 24 hours.
Alternatively, the RM43 spray has a dual-action glyphosate and imazapyr mix and comes with a smaller price tag. Though there is no spray nozzle included, this option kills many harmful plants and prevents them from coming back with spot control capability and rainproof strength for over 2 hours after use.How We Chose the Best Brush Killers
Brush, poison ivy, weeds, stumps, and other harmful plants can damage the integrity and aesthetic of your outdoor space and plants. The right brush killer can remove all noxious plants with the aid of potent ingredients, long working times, and water resistance.
Many of the above picks are made with triclopyr, glyphosate, 2,4-D, or mixes of these chemicals for effective weed killing. Some are also made with weed-preventing chemicals to keep noxious plants from regrowing. Though most of these options do not come with spray nozzles or wands, each is potent and comes with rainproof abilities to last through most weather conditions.
The above selection is also versatile, as most mixes are able to kill a variety of harmful plant types simultaneously and the effects can last for up to 1 year after application. Many of the above picks require dilution before using so most come in lightweight quantities, but many are also offered in multiple size options.FAQs
Unwanted vines and brush can take over a plot of land quickly. When they become too thick and tough to remove with a mower or brush cutter, many homeowners opt to use chemical weed and brush killer products. Here are answers to some common questions about brush killers.Q. Can a brush killer kill grass or other desirable plants?
Yes, herbicides kill a wide range of plants, and overspray can kill desirable plants. So use caution and don’t apply herbicide when it’s windy.Q. Are brush killers safe for children or pets?
Some are safer than others. Always read and follow the label’s safety precautions, and don’t allow children or pets in the area until the recommended amount of time has passed.Q. How long does it take for a brush killer to work?
When foliage is saturated, many brush killers start working almost immediately. Still, it can take time for the herbicide to travel from the leaves through the stems, trunks, and roots. Wilting may be evident in 24 hours, but the entire plant may not die for up to six weeks.Q. How many times do I have to apply the brush killer?
Most of the time it only takes one application, but success depends on several factors. If the wrong type of product is used, it may never kill the offending brush; if rain washes the herbicide off too soon, reapplication may be necessary. Always read the product’s label, because it may be a violation of federal law to reapply specific herbicides before a certain amount of time (specified on the label) has passed.
How to Kill Overgrown Brush | Home Guides
By Karen G Blaettler Updated April 20, 2021
Understory, also called underbrush, consists of the shrubs and smaller trees that grow under the forest canopy, providing shelter, food and protection for wildlife, especially birds, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Considering the important role that understory plays in forest ecosystems, homeowners usually consider factors like invasive species, forest health and fire safety before killing brush and weeds around their homes.
Deciding to Kill Brush
Invasive or non-native plants may severely impact native environments, choking out or even replacing native plants and trees. Removing these intruders and overgrown natives becomes necessary to restore the natural ecosystem, as explained by Oak Savannas. Clearing overgrown shrubs let sunlight into the understory which encourages new growth of a variety of plants, including native plants while exposing the lower branches of trees so they can grow properly or be trimmed if they have died.
A thick brush provides a ready source of fuel, especially when bushes form dense thickets. CalFire recommends a 30-foot defensible zone around homes and structures to prevent ignition through direct contact or radiant heat. Maintaining a defensible zone doesn't mean killing brush and weeds indiscriminately, but rather removing or separating trees and brush from structures and each other. Use at least 6 feet of vertical separation and twice the brush height between shrubs on flat ground, increasing those separations on slopes.
Physical Brush Killers
If you aren't in a hurry, you can remove the brush by hiring a goatherd, according to Modern Farmer. Goats prefer eating woody brush material as well as brambles, vines and other noxious plants. Using goats requires having or installing a minimum four-foot-tall perimeter fence and providing clean water, shelter, supplemental feed and, if necessary, first aid. While they won't eat absolutely any plant, 20 healthy adult goats can clear a quarter acre in about three days, according to Tractor Supply Company, and might be the best way to clear brush on hillsides.
Although physically demanding, cutting down brush using chainsaws, handsaws and brush cutters lets the homeowner be specific in shrub removal. As Ohio State University Extension points out, when using any power tools, be sure to follow all manufacturer warnings, directions and precautions including wearing personal protective equipment and removing debris, such as wires, from the work area. For larger, relatively flat areas, hiring or renting a tractor with a mower attachment may be more practical.
Cut overgrown brush in sections, starting higher up and cutting until the stumps are within 1 to 2 inches from the ground. Dig out small stumps, if possible. Be aware that clearing brush probably will be a multi-year process because new shoots often grow up from the stumps and roots. To reduce return growth, paint the tops and sides of cut stumps with an herbicide, adding dye to the herbicide to be sure all the cut stems have been treated.
Chemical Brush Killers
Applying chemicals to cut stumps, according to Alabama Cooperative Extension, greatly reduces the regrowth of woody shrubs with stems larger than about 1/2 inch. Two common cut stump treatments are glyphosate and triclopyr herbicides. Glyphosate herbicides require a minimum 20 percent active ingredient to be effective, and at least 41 percent active ingredient for bigger projects. Triclopyr must contain at least 8 percent active ingredient to be effective.
To apply, carefully spray or paint the entire stump, being sure to apply the chemical to the bark's inner circumference so the herbicide is carried to the roots. Do not wear leather gloves or boots when working with these chemicals because leather soaks up many herbicides. As with any chemical, read and follow all manufacturer directions and precautions, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, especially eye protection, and wash and clean equipment thoroughly when done.
According to Bob Vila, some herbicides are specific herbicides while others kill indiscriminately. Triclopyr is selective, affecting broadleaf woody plants but not turf grass. Glyphosate, however, kills grasses, vines and woody brush, making glyphosate a nonselective brush killer. Spraying the entire area with either chemical would kill the overgrown brush but probably also kill desirable trees and plants.
- CalFire: Prepare for Wildfire - Maintain Defensible Space
- National Wildlife Federation: Native Plant Types
- Oak Savannas: Tree and Brush Removal
- Modern Farmer: How to Use Goats and Sheep to Clear Brush
- Tractor Supply Company: Goats for Hire
- Ohio State University Extension: Handheld Trimmers and Brush Cutters
- Alabama Cooperative Extension: Cut Stump Herbicide Treatments for Invasive Plant Control
- Bob Vila: The Best Brush Killer Options for Your Lawn and Garden
- You can also purchase premixed triclopyr herbicides if you prefer not to mix the herbicide and fuel oil yourself.
- Triclopyr products are available in various concentrations, so the amount of herbicide needed to mix the solution depends on the product used. Check the product label for a mixing table to determine the amount of product needed to achieve the desired concentration.
Karen earned her Certificate in Technical and Scientific Writing at San Diego State University while working to complete her BS degree in Geological Sciences. Karen eventually returned to SDSU for her teacher credential, then completed her MA in Science Education through Western Governors University. Karen enjoys creative writing and has published several poems and a book of short stories. She has written a variety of nonfiction articles for Sciencing.
all possible ways to get rid of tree plantations, as well as remove their growth, without resorting to felling
There are situations in which it is necessary to stop the growth of a tree or completely remove it, but sawing and felling are not applicable.
If you decide to destroy a tree, you must understand the possible consequences, including a high likelihood of a fine or even criminal prosecution .
However, these methods can be used legally, for example, to control the growth of a felled or uprooted tree that has been removed with permission.
In addition, cessation of growth or removal may be required when:
- a young shoot from a wild root is growing near the foundation;
- among trees of one species, a wild plant of another species appears and suppresses other plants;
- after clearing the field and uprooting the stumps, wild growth appears.
Let's figure out how to destroy a tree without cutting it down.
- What is the difference between cessation of growth and removal?
- How to stop growth?
- Treatment of leaves
- Treatment of trunk
- Treatment of roots
- How to get rid of a tree?
What is the difference between cessation of growth and removal?
The cessation of growth leads to the death of the plant, but the trunk and branches can retain their shape for decades. Such a plant turns into deadwood and dries quickly , because the sap flow in it completely stops.
Removal means the destruction of the trunk or roots in any way, after which the restoration of the tree is no longer possible.
However, after removal of the trunk, it is possible that roots remain active and new shoots appear. It is also possible to simultaneously remove the trunk and roots, but it is impossible to remove or destroy the roots before removing the trunk.
How to stop growth?
All methods of stopping growth can be divided according to their effect into:
- soil and roots.
Foliage is treated with various herbicides, the most popular of which is Roundup .
Although marketed as a weed killer, this product is well suited for killing most deciduous trees.
The main component is glyphosate, which blocks the synthesis of certain critical substances, which leads to the death of all parts of the plant.
Roundup is applied to the leaves with the Sprayer using protective clothing, respirator and goggles, as glyphosate is highly toxic. In addition, any glyphosate-based preparations should not be used where animals of any kind frequently appear.
Foliar spraying with Roundup or other herbicides can be done at any time, but will be most effective when spraying early foliage.
When applying the preparation to the plant, it is necessary to proceed very carefully, if possible avoiding material falling on the ground . Once in the soil, glyphosate will poison it and groundwater passing through it, then with them it will get to other plants, as well as into a well or well. Due to the high toxicity of the drug, it should be used only in exceptional cases, when no other methods of dealing with the young growth of the tree give a result.
Impact on the trunk
To stop the growth of the plant through the trunk, use the same methods that we talked about in the article about removing stumps without uprooting.
Due to the fact that the wood of the trunk is almost indistinguishable from the wood of the roots, these reagents act on the trunk in exactly the same way.
It is most convenient to drill holes for laying reagents at a height of 1.5 m from the ground, this will allow you to perform all work with a minimum level of discomfort. If necessary, the height can be changed in any direction, because reagents spread along the tree along with the movement of juices .
When choosing a reagent, it must be taken into account that urea and saltpeter loosen the wood and deprive it of strength, due to which the tree may fall under the influence of wind.
Treatment of roots
The effect on the roots differs from the effect on the trunk only in that the preparations are not injected into the wood, but poured around .
This method is only applicable where no other plants are planned to be planted after the removal of the tree.
Therefore, you do not have to worry about the negative effects of reagents.
This method has several significant disadvantages :
- increased consumption of reagents, because it is necessary to create a high concentration in the area of the root system;
- total barrenness of the soil;
- pollution of high-lying groundwater.
How to get rid of a tree?
In cases where you need to destroy a tree without cutting it down, you can:
- Knock it down in various ways.
- Remove the root from the ground (if required).
- Dispose of leftovers.
Only young trees of small height and diameter can be felled. If the height exceeds 4–5 m, and the diameter of the trunk exceeds 10 cm, it is better to cut it down, because larger plants can only be dumped using heavy equipment , i. e. an excavator or a bulldozer.
At home, you can knock down the trunk using a car or truck. The heavier the machine, the easier it will be to break the trunk or twist the roots out of the ground.
Felling requires rope or cable twice the height of the tree. A cable or rope is tied to the trunk at a height of 2/3 of the trunk length, then tied to a towbar or transport hook.
It is desirable to load the trunk as much as possible in order to increase the weight of the car and the grip of its wheels with the ground. Then they start the car and, turning on the first gear, slowly pull the cable or rope and continue moving forward.
This job should not be done without many years of driving experience, as pressing the accelerator pedal too hard will result in wheel slip and reduced traction .
In addition, it is undesirable to use machines with an automatic transmission (automatic transmission) or a variator for this operation.
It is also very important to use the clutch pedal correctly, because mistakes will lead to rapid wear of the clutch disc or engine stalling.
If the trunk has broken off from the root, the root must be removed from the ground. If you leave it in the ground, then there is a high probability of both the appearance of a new shoot and the development of pests and pathogens of various diseases in it.
We have already talked about the different uprooting methods here. After that, it is necessary to dispose of all the wood in any acceptable way, which can help you with the article on the removal of trees and branches.
It is possible to get rid of a tree without cutting it down only if it is small, using both herbicides and other methods for this. However, most of the methods pose a threat to the soil, as well as animals and people.
Therefore, resorting to such extreme measures is necessary only if it is not possible to remove the tree or its growth in any other way.
How to Kill Dragons Daenerys Targaryen
When the heroine of the popular television series "Game of Thrones" Daenerys Targaryen acquired three dragons, the balance of power between rivals for the Iron Throne began to change. Thanks to mature fire-breathing creatures, Daenerys has become the most powerful player in the political game. How do dragons from the world of the Game of Thrones spew fire, fly and multiply, who will be able to cope with them - white walkers, trebuchets or their ice counterparts, who will win - the armies of Westeros or the forces of Daenerys? Indicator.Ru tried to find answers to these questions. Attention! There are many spoilers in the text. And dragons.
Is nuclear winter coming?
Dragons once helped House Targaryen conquer the Seven Kingdoms and hold power over the territories of Westeros. But gradually they died out. All that remains of the legendary creatures are the petrified eggs that the last representative of the ancient family, Daenerys Targaryen, received as a wedding gift. At the end of the first season, the heroine puts three dragon eggs into the fire and enters the fire herself. When it burns down, Daenerys is safe and sound, and little dragons hatch from the eggs.
For six seasons, the dragons grew up, and at the same time, little by little they helped their "mother" to conquer nearby cities. Gradually, the creatures became so dangerous that Daenerys was forced to temporarily lock them up in a dungeon so that they would not kill the civilians of Slaver's Bay. Finally, in the last episode of the sixth season, Daenerys's army embarks on ships and sails towards Westeros to return the Iron Throne to the Targaryen family. Huge dragons fly behind the ships.
What are Daenerys' dragons? They are not afraid of fire or clouds of arrows. Thick scales protect all vulnerable parts of the dragon's body. George Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire saga that inspired the series, called dragons the equivalent of nuclear weapons in the modern world. “Dragons are a deterrent that only Daenerys can take advantage of, which in some ways makes her the most powerful person in the universe of the saga. But is this enough? I am trying to answer this question. For example, the United States has a nuclear arsenal, but this does not mean that the state can achieve specific geopolitical goals. Power is a more subtle thing,” Martin told Vulture magazine.
In an article published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, scientists go further and compare Daenerys' ancestor Aegon the Conqueror's failed attempt to subdue the kingdom of Dorne to the Vietnam War.
“Even with the dragons, Aegon Targaryen could not force Dorne to surrender. He subdued six kingdoms, but the rocky, arid, desert territory of Dorne, with small cities and shelters, "prepared" these lands for war with dragons. Similarly, during the Vietnam War, American soldiers faced fierce resistance from guerrillas who were not intimidated by the US nuclear stockpile. In secret report 19For 67 years, they decided that nuclear weapons would not have a decisive military advantage, ”said Timothy Westmyer, author of the study, in the pages of the journal.
Neither burns in fire nor sinks in water
So is a living "nuclear weapon" the key to conquering the Seven Kingdoms? Does the Lannister army have any advantage over dragons?
According to Dr. Lauren Oliver of the University of North Georgia, one such advantage for Daenerys' opponents is the cold northern weather. Unlike real reptiles, dragons are able to generate their own heat, so they are less dependent on external heat sources. But still, the creatures will have a harder time where there is practically no sunlight. “Dragons can be almost useless in the north, especially now that the cold winter has finally arrived and there is little to no sunlight. So the dragons will probably not be able to generate fire and will die. It would be a huge victory for the northerners, they just have to fight on their territory, ”Oliver believes.
History knows many examples when the cold climate was an ally of one of the parties in real wars, killing Hannibal's elephants when crossing the Alps, and Napoleon's soldiers in Russia. But even long before the advent of mankind, cooling more than once became a problem for the animal world. “For heat-loving animals, a decrease in ambient temperature, as a rule, ends fatally,” comments Dmitry Ryakin, editor of the paleontology news site PaleoNews. — Paleontologists note that epochs of mass extinctions are usually accompanied by cooling. And life on our planet was the hardest during the time of the "Snowball Earth", when even almost all the oceans froze ... So, most likely, after a long stay in a cold climate, dragons will not be such formidable opponents.
The dragons in the series don't really have thermal insulation, they are more adapted to life in the south. According to Dmitry Ryakin, this is a completely justified adaptation: an active flapping flight indicates that the metabolism should be close to that of a bird. If they had not been cooled in a timely manner, then such large animals would inevitably have overheated. “It is quite possible, by the way, that the famous fiery breath of dragons was originally just a side effect of some forced cooling systems of the body, and was something like the heat exhaust of our refrigerators and air conditioners,” suggests Ryakin. If this is really a way to cool down, then the dragons are doomed: they will not even be able to breathe fire, so as not to freeze to death.
Moreover, in order for the massive flying lizards to keep warm, they needed energy, and therefore food. In the North, finding high-calorie food, and even in huge quantities, will probably be difficult, especially if Daenerys's opponents manage to disrupt the supply. And if you add to all this an army of white walkers (who may also have their own ice dragons), Daenerys' chances of winning look slim.
However, dragons have every chance to survive, even formidable and intimidating, in severe winter conditions, if the nature of their "fiery breath" is chemical, and their food is uninterrupted. “There is a completely plausible chemical hypothesis, according to which dragons do not spew flames, but a suspension of combustible secretion of a special gland sprayed in the air,” Ryakin said. - It is known that in diseases such as diabetes or kidney failure, there is quite a lot of acetone in the air exhaled by a person. It is quite possible that the dragons simply learned to synthesize it or some, for example, alcohols or ethers ... Then no frost will prevent the dragon from breathing fire while the animal is alive.
Fire-breathing great-grandson of the archosaur
But what to do with the fearsome flying descendants of lizards in this case? The answer is obvious: to study the biological characteristics of these animals in order to find their weaknesses. “The dragons of the Game of Thrones are an endemic species that has no direct correspondence in the terrestrial fauna,” Dmitry Ryakin is sure. “In all likelihood, they represent a sister group to birds, the evolution of which, also starting from reptiles, then followed its own paths.”
This idea is not made up out of thin air, it is supported by important signs of dragons that help establish their supposed place in the living world and evolutionary lineage. First, they have a massive long tail, the purpose of which is not clear. Consequently, it could not appear in already flying animals and, most likely, it was inherited from ancestors (according to Ryakin, archosaurs). “Why carry such a burden on a dragon, moving mainly through the air, is not entirely clear,” the specialist explains, recalling that flight adaptations should primarily be associated with a decrease in body weight.
The paleontologist was also interested in how dragons breed. What are considered "eggs" in the series are covered in highly visible scales and are very different from amniotic bird or reptile eggs, which have white, yolk and shell. According to Ryakin, this is “some kind of live birth, in which a cub curled up like an armadillo is born, covered with powerful bone armor and continues to develop outside the mother’s body.”
Another feature of their development, which the expert noticed, is the rapid growth of young individuals. Since reptiles grow throughout their lives, you can roughly estimate how many years they will live. “In terms of the size and structural features of the bones, the age of small pterosaurs today is estimated at literally a few years, and large ones could probably last several decades,” says Dmitry Ryakin, estimating how short the age of Daenerys’ “pets” can be. - Dragons, as we see, grow rapidly, much faster than any other animals known to us. As a rule, such dynamics are characteristic of ephemeral, short-lived species, so it would not be surprising if after a couple of seasons the trinity of Daenerys dragons simply died of old age, leaving behind several scaly eggs. In any case, from a biological point of view, such a scenario is quite logical.
The third interesting feature of dragons, which makes them unlike any other organisms known to us, is, of course, the effective mechanism of fire eruptions, which, according to Dmitry Ryakin, "also tells us about the advanced evolutionary adaptations of dragons in comparison with classical reptiles and birds." Therefore, all analogies with pterosaurs, other reptiles and birds must be built with great care.
Why don't dragons fly like birds?
When it comes to flying in cold weather, dragons will have much less trouble than they think. “First of all, because cold air has a higher density and provides better support for the bearing planes of the wings,” Dmitry Ryakin explains. “And if you remember that, according to one of the recent hypotheses, large pterosaurs (and therefore, possibly dragons) used a ground effect for flight, then lowering the temperature will clearly benefit them.”
According to this hypothesis, the flight of pterosaurs is neither gliding (with rigid, unbending wings, like airplanes) nor active flapping flight, like many modern birds. Such a third option was called screen-based. In this case, the giant reptile was kept in the sky by an air cushion that was created between the wing of a flying animal and a smooth surface below it (for example, water). When the incoming air flow passed under the wing, it was limited to this surface below, shielding from it, and therefore moved more slowly than the air flow from above. With the right compression of the air cushion, the lift force could not only support the owner of the membrane wings, but also move him forward.
The thin membranous wings of dragons and pterosaurs may have evolved in parallel by a similar mechanism. At the first stage, they could have formed from the leathery folds-webs on their sides, which their ancestors used first for camouflage, and later for gliding from trees to prey. Then the bones of the hand turned into a "winglet" - a thin and movable end of the membrane, which can be folded up. In the end, the winglet gradually increased and took on more load, taking on a major role in flight control.
“Small pterosaurs were most likely capable of flapping their wings like modern birds and making very precise maneuvers in the air. But large flying lizards, reaching the size of a small aircraft, of course, could not boast of such accuracy. Their element was a soaring flight over an open area, somewhere near the seashore or over the Mesozoic savannah, ”says Dmitry Ryakin.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine that such a colossus as a dragon's body is easy to control. Despite this, as we found out, their speed must be high so that the heavy dragon does not fall to the ground. But at the same time, it is important for dragons not to overheat. About a hundred million years ago, pterosaurs and some massive birds faced the same problems. Paleontologists and ornithologists have found another way to deal with this: the muscles of these animals can generate more energy in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) way than aerobically, which could allow pterosaurs and dragons not to speed up their metabolism too much, becoming warm-blooded, because this way of obtaining energy is not necessary strictly maintain body temperature.
But what if the dragons are not afraid of the fierce winter of Westeros? What weapon will save the Lannister army?
According to paleontologists, even if armed with a massive arrow, reminiscent of the one that killed the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit, it would hardly be able to hit Daenerys' dragons, which can fly very fast. Ancient pterosaurs with a wingspan of at least ten meters flew at a speed of about 80-100 km / h. Drogon, the largest of Daenerys' dragons, although not yet fully grown, is larger than the average pterosaur in size. “Dragons in Game of Thrones are huge, they just need to fly fast to stay in the air. Hitting them with bows, crossbows or spears will be difficult. Moreover, the crossbowmen will not even have time to shoot, as the dragons will already have time to fly up and burn them, ”says paleontologist Mark Witton.
A projectile large enough to knock out flying monsters. “Deprived of mobility and food, the dragon quickly weakens and no longer poses a serious threat. But we still should not talk about a bow, but rather about a throwing machine, because the size of the dragons in the series is gradually growing, and it is almost impossible to damage them with a simple arrow, ”says Dmitry Ryakin.
“Medieval armies had all sorts of siege weapons like trebuchets that theoretically could bring down dragons, but since dragons are agile, this is not very easy to do. The army of Westeros is armed with a semblance of Greek fire - one of the most terrible weapons of the Middle Ages. Theoretically, if a dragon is hit with such fire, then the result will not be in favor of the creature. The best option is if the dragon can be "lowered down" and engage in close combat with him. The warriors of Westeros are more or less trained to fight on the ground, so they will have at least some chances here,” Aleksey Kupriyanov, Candidate of Historical Sciences, told Indicator.Ru.
Perhaps the idea of engaging the dragon in close combat, with proper tactics, can be crowned with success. In medieval ballads, the knights always followed this strategy and, of course, defeated the terrible creature. True, at the same time they often carried a magic shield with them, which allowed them to survive from dragon fire. Magic weapons of this kind have not yet appeared in the world of the Seven Kingdoms.
But what if Daenerys' dragons have impenetrable armor, like their distant relatives, some dinosaurs? Will the projectiles of medieval armies be able to do them any harm? “Of course, in order to break through the strong bone shields of some armored dinosaurs, people would need very powerful arrow throwers,” Dmitry Ryakin comments on this assumption, “but since we are talking about flying animals, the main evolutionary trend of which was the tendency to reduce flight weight, then no serious armor dragons are not to be expected.