We have much going on this summer. Here is a short summary of what we are doing.
1. Leafy spurge: We collected leafy spurge flea beetles July 7-8 near Grass Range. We have well over 100 requests for releases, but if you are interested in one contact us and we will do our best to get some to you. We do not have a good site to collect in Jefferson County because they all have releases and the flea beetles have caused them to crash (they have killed much of the spurge) so there are not enough insects to collect. Some folks have learned that if you start flood/heavily irrigating a site where the flea beetles have cleared most of the spurge, it comes back. This is because the flea beetles only work on dry sites where the larvae in the roots do not drown.
2. We are monitoring 10 of the 12 spurge research sites we set up last summer for the ARS researchers at Sidney. We will be collecting insect and plant density data as well as soil and actual plant samples (for DNA analysis).
3. Canada thistle: We are setting up 10 permanent research plots. We will take data on plant density now and come back in September/October to infect the plants with the fungus. We still need one or two more sites.
4. Dalmatian and yellow toadflax: We are monitoring these two related plants, their hybrids and the insects that are feeding on them throughout Jefferson County for Forest Service researchers in Bozeman. Also, we are finished with the season to collect/release the insects for these plants.
5. Yellow toadflax: We are rearing a new stem galling insect for yellow toadflax in insect cages at the insectary at the school track. We may have a release or two at some point in the summer. We shall see how that goes. If you have yellow toadflax on your land, we would sure like to know.
6. Calls: We are calling most of the folks who have received insects from us over the years to see how the insects are working and if you need any more. If you have changed your phone number, please give us a call so we can update our records. Some of our releases go back to the early 1990’s.
7. Houndstongue: We are growing houndstongue in the insectary in hopes of attracting the new insect that we are not allowed to move yet. If we can build up a population of the insects, then when (if) they are approved, we will be able to move them around in large numbers. They sure seem to work well where they are established in our area.
8. Russian knapweed: We have the stem galling midges and wasps in the insectary and are making releases as requested.
9. Spotted and diffuse knapweed: We will begin collecting the root boring weevils in late July/August. If you want a release, contact us to get on the waiting list.
10. Whitetop: Sorry, no bio-control agents yet. Feel free to be impatiently patient (as we are) if you want…
The cool wet spring has slowed when the insects emerge and made it hard to collect them. We will keep at it. Stick with your weed plan!
If you would like your land to be involved in any of this, message us on our Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project Facebook page or call during normal business hours: Alycia: 406-565-3995 or Todd: 406-498-5236.