In the never-ending battle against the unrelenting, unforgiving force that is nature, mankind has a new and frightening enemy: Tumbleweed.
Though more often represented on screen as a benign and harmless form of plant-life, and most regularly used in fiction as a device to indicate the utter absence of drama, for one elderly man in New Mexico the reverse was very much the case.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 80-year-old Wilford Ransom woke up one morning last week to find he was trapped in his home by a tangle of tumbleweeds 'big enough to surround his 1,600-square-foot house.'
In scenes that The Times of London describes as 'plucked from The Day of the Triffids' (a post-apocalyptic novel, film and TV series about an aggressive species of killer plant), Mr Ransom found himself held hostage by an avalanche of wiry weeds.
The windows of the house were covered and when he attempted to open his front door it would only budge a few inches. In desperation Mr Ransom was forced to call a police emergency hotline, asking to be rescued. The WSJ reports that Mr Ransom was eventually dug out of his property by a neighbour.
"Those Westerns don't do 'em justice," Mr Ransom told the WSJ, of the mild public image associated with the wiry menace, adding: "I don't want to experience anything like that again. It was a little scary."
The disruption associated with tumbleweed has become a serious issue in areas across the southern parts of the United States.
A widespread drought has unleashed a plague of the weeds which are clogging up water canals, blocking roads and burying homes.
According to The Times, in New Mexico the military has been called out to help clear the weeds, while in Colorado roads have had to be cleared by bulldozers.