Field Day for Beetles and Farmers
The County here is North Dakota is teaming up with the State Department of Agriculture and local farmers to collect as many bugs as can be stuffed into coolers.
Events are being held this summer called “field days” in which bugs are harvested from fields for redistribution among crops. The reason all these bug-hunters are out and about is to contain an obnoxious and pernicious weed called leafy spurge.
The weed invades fields and sucks up water but has one natural born enemy – the flea beetle. This tiny but active insect eats leafy spurge, and has been used successfully in this area to contain the weed.
Participants can choose from four dates in June and July to help in the effort to collect bugs, which will later by redistributed by farmers into crop fields. Attendees are asked to arm themselves with sweep nets, and carry coolers in which to place the bugs they catch.
Using biological control is a low-impact method of keeping pests at bay while preserving food crops, and the flea beetle campaign is an excellent example of how effective this system can be.