Biological Control Works Wonders on Spurge
Leafy spurge is not the kind of green you’d want to add to your salad. Or have in your garden, for that matter. It is listed as one of the 11 noxious weeds in North Dakota and has a bad reputation for taking over huge areas of usable land.
Fortunately for farmers, leafy spurge has met its archnemesis, the flea beetle. For years, farmers have been using the flea beetle as an ally in their campaign to reduce leafy spurge.
Last week, a field trip was scheduled to collect as many beetles as could be netted, and the proceeds were distributed to any farmers who wanted a non-pesticide spurge solution.
In 1986, the first experimentation with flea beetles began. They were known to feed on the spurge’s leaves, with larvae munching on the plants roots.
The flea beetle and spurge combat continues, and creates a genuine natural balance in the fields. When the insects have plenty to eat they also destroy most of their food source, so their own population declines. Once the spurge makes a comeback the beetles again have sustenance, and their numbers rebound.