TEAM Leafy Spurge: Working Together to Purge Spurge Summer 2000 Field Season

Despite inclement weather and widespread reductions in leafy spurge infestations at traditional collection sites, TEAM Leafy Spurge collected 16.5 million Aphthona spp. flea beetles during a three-week period in June. The insects were used for distributions to ranchers and landowners at five locations in the four-state study area; incorporated into the distribution efforts were biocontrol training sessions and tours of TLS demonstration sites.

Of note were distribution efforts in three new areas: the Heart (North Dakota), Grand (South Dakota) and Powder (Wyoming) river drainages. TLS selected the three new drainages -- which are all heavily infested with spurge -- to supplement existing management efforts and increase interest in biological control and integrated pest management in those areas.

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

Of special interest this summer were significant reductions in leafy spurge infestations at many sites in the northern Great Plains, particularly in North Dakota. At some sites, reductions in spurge densities from 1999 to 2000 were dramatic, ranging from 50 to 90 percent or more. The rapid decline of infestations in some areas adversely impacted flea beetle collection efforts.

Chad Prosser with rancher
TLS program coordinator Chad Prosser gives a biocontrol manual to an interested rancher.

One highlight of the 2000 field season was the publication of "Biological Control of Leafy Spurge," a full-color, 20-page, how-to manual that provides step-by-step instructions for using leafy spurge flea beetles.

The manual was an overwhelming success. Demand quickly exceeded supply -- 10,000 copies were distributed the first two weeks it was available -- and forced a second printing. In a six-week span, TEAM Leafy Spurge distributed more than 14,000 copies to end users in 16 states and four Canadian provinces. Not included in that figure are 5,000 copies ordered by the Bureau of Land Management’s Montana State Office.

The manual is now being revised for the 2001 field season. TLS will supplement the biocontrol manual with similar manuals on multi-species grazing, herbicides and integrated pest management.

The biocontrol manual, and other informational and educational TLS materials, can be downloaded from the TEAM Leafy Spurge web site at: http://www.

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