Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2000

TEAM Leafy Spurge concludes summer field season
By Steve Merritt for the MSU News Service

Contact: Steve Merritt (406-433-9440;

Larry Brence, MSU Extension agent for Carter & Fallon counties (left), and Chad Prosser, TEAM Leafy Spurge coordinator (middle), load flea beetles into a cooler for Karen Hammell, a rancher from the Ekalaka, Montana area.
TEAM Leafy Spurge distributed more than 6 million flea beetles at the field day in Ekalaka, which was held in conjunction with Montana Range Days on June 21.

SIDNEY, Montana — The collection and redistribution of 16.5 million flea beetles, expansion into three new drainages and production of a new biocontrol manual highlighted another busy summer for TEAM Leafy Spurge.

"The weather wasnít as cooperative as we would have liked to start the season, but it has otherwise been a very good year for us," said Gerry Anderson, co-principal investigator of the USDA-ARSís area-wide integrated pest management program.

A major focus of TEAMís summer efforts was collecting and redistributing leafy spurge flea beetles to ranchers and landowners within the programís study area. Despite rainy, cool weather, TEAM personnel collected and redistributed 16.5 million of the host-specific leafy spurge flea beetles during a three-week span in June. TLS used some of the flea beetles to expand beyond the programís original study area, the Little Missouri River drainage. The Heart (N.D.), Grand (S.D.) and Powder (Wyoming) river drainages are heavily infested with spurge, Anderson said, and will provide "excellent release sites."

"We wanted to move into the new drainages to supplement existing management efforts, and to increase interest in biological control and integrated pest management," he said. "So far, weíre seeing an extremely high level of interest in biocontrol and integrated pest management."

TEAM Leafy Spurge has now collected and redistributed 40 million flea beetles — enough for more than 13,000 new release sites — during the past three years.

Don Mundal, a research associate from the North Dakota State University Department of Entomology, stands in a sea of spurge near Mill Iron, Montana, while being interviewed by a film crew from the British Broadcasting Company.
The BBC film crew was producing a documentary on invasive species, and made the trip to Montana and North Dakota to travel with TEAM Leafy Spurge and learn about the success of leafy spurge flea beetles.

Another highlight of the field season was the production and distribution of "Biological Control of Leafy Spurge," a full-color, 20-page guide that provides step-by-step instructions for using leafy spurge flea beetles. The manual was originally intended for ranchers in the four-state study area, but was ultimately distributed to 16 states and four Canadian provinces.

"Demand for the manual was just incredible — we distributed more than 14,000 copies in a six-week period," Anderson said. "Itís a great resource for people who want to learn more about successfully using biological control, and weíre still getting calls from people whoíd like to get a copy."

Anderson said the manual can be downloaded as a PDF file from the TEAM Leafy Spurge website at

TEAM Leafy Spurge is a five-year Integrated Pest Management research and demonstration program funded headquartered at the USDA-AS Northern Plaisn Agricultural Research Station in Sidney, Montana, and managed by the USDA-ARS in partnership with the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service. Itís goal is providing landowners and land managers with effective, affordable and sustainable leafy spurge control techniques based on IPM strategies.

TEAM participants include the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological Service, land grant universities (including Montana State University, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University and the University of Wyoming), county Extension agents and weed supervisors, ranchers and land managers.

For additional information on TEAM Leafy Spurge, leafy spurge biocontrol or Integrated Pest Management, see the TEAM Leafy Spurge website at or send an e-mail to


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