Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1999

TEAM Leafy Spurge Looks Back to Plan Ahead
By Steve Merritt for the MSU News Service
Contact: Steve Merritt (406-433-9440)

This article and accompanying photos can be downloaded from the MSU Communications Services Web page. See the note at the bottom of the page for additional information.

SIDNEY, Montana — With summer winding down, TEAM Leafy Spurge is looking back to see what was accomplished and looking forward to set next year’s agenda.

The highlight of the summer, said Chad Prosser, coordinator of the USDA-ARS area-wide program, was "Spurgefest ’99," which served as the centerpiece for a series of field tours and the distribution of more than 20 million Aphthona spp. leafy spurge flea beetles.

"We had a good — no, make that great — summer," Prosser said. "It will hopefully set the stage for reaching out to even more people next year."

Spurgefest ’99

Spurgefest ’99, held in Medora, N.D. from June 29-July 2, was TEAM Leafy Spurge’s first major public awareness event. More than 250 people from 18 states and two Canadian provinces attended the three-day event, which featured speakers, a flea beetle distribution and tours of TEAM Leafy Spurge grazing, herbicide and biological control demonstration sites.

"Spurgefest was a success, and there are a lot of people who deserve recognition for their contributions," Prosser said. "We’d especially like to thank the co-sponsors — APHIS, the National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, North Dakota State University and North Dakota Department of Agriculture."

Insect Distribution

Spurgefest ’99 was packaged with tours of TEAM Leafy Spurge demonstration sites in Ekalaka (Montana), Buffalo (South Dakota) and Sundance (Wyoming), Prosser said, with the goal of distributing information and leafy spurge flea beetles.

"All told, we collected and redistributed more than 20 million flea beetles to 206 ranchers and land managers from 50 different counties in seven states," Prosser said. "It was a lot of work and a busy summer, but it was well worth the effort."

Some people drove hundreds of miles to get flea beetles.

"We had ranchers driving to Medora from western Montana and to Buffalo from central Nebraska just to get flea beetles," he said. "That, along with the comments and questions we heard at the tours, shows there is a lot of interest in biological control and integrated pest management."

Bob Richard, director of the USDA-APHIS Biocontrol of Weeds Laboratory in Bozeman, Montana, and TEAM Leafy Spurge/Operations Team Leader, said the insects will be used to establish insectaries in new locations and supplement existing populations.

"The primary goal is establishing flea beetle populations that can be used to establish even more insectaries for ranchers, landowners and land managers," Richard said. "Every new site that’s established is a success story."

What’s Next

The busy summer, Prosser said, will be followed by an extremely busy fall and winter.

"We’re not going to get much time to catch our breath," he said.

The TEAM Leafy Spurge ad hoc committee will meet Oct. 19 & 20 in Rapid City, South Dakota, to review the program’s progress and discuss pre-proposals for the upcoming year. New to this year’s call for pre-proposals, he said, is increased emphasis on research projects that evaluate the impact of leafy spurge on native Euphorbias, wildlife, and threatened and endangered species.

Prosser and other TEAM members will also be kept busy by attending numerous events with the traveling TEAM Leafy Spurge display.

"We’re going to be attending a lot of events, ranging from the Marketplace of Ideas in Bismarck and other agriculturally oriented public events to state weed control association meetings and annual Extension Service meetings," he said. "We want to make sure that everyone who wants or needs information about biological control and Integrated Pest Management knows where to get it, and these kinds of events provide a great way to contact a lot of people in the same place at the same time."

TEAM Leafy Spurge is a five-year leafy spurge research and demonstration project funded by the USDA-ARS and managed in conjunction with the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service. It’s goal is to research, develop and demonstrate effective, affordable and ecologically sustainable leafy spurge management technologies.

For more information about biological control, integrated pest management or TEAM Leafy Spurge, contact program coordinator Chad Prosser at 406/433-9403 (e-mail: cprosser@sidney.ars.usda.gov).


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