by Susan Simons
WALSENBURG- Do you sometimes wonder what you are going to do with the bindweed that is taking over more and more of your property? According to Oregon State University’s Extension service, field bindweed seeds can still germinate after 60 years and roots can grow as much as 30 feet deep. If you pull bindweed and leave any roots in the soil, they can regenerate the plant in about two weeks.
Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Biological Pest Control Program has a non-toxic answer. It’s called biocontrol for weeds and you fill out a request-a-bug form to order a shipment of mites for bindweed. The Insectary, where the insects are bred and harvested, is on the western slope, near Palisade, Colorado. Starting this year, they are charging a fee for insect shipments because they have so many requests. A shipment of bindweed mites costs $35. You can also request a bug to deal with Canada thistle, Puncturevine, Musk thistle, and Dalmatian toadflax. These shipments are each $15.
My bindweed mites arrived last Wednesday by FedEx in a styrofoam box with an ice pack inside.
Also inside was a bag of bindweed stems. Most of the leaves were folded, containing clusters of mites which had formed a gall. My job was to twist these infected stems together with healthy stems during the cool of the evening. I also received a canister of field bindweed moth larvae as a bonus. I filled out a report and mailed that back with the styrofoam box and ice pack.
These mites will breed, spread, and form a colony. I will be able to collect galls from this colony and take them to other bindweed sites on my property or my neighbor’s.
The Insectary has more requests than they can fill immediately. You will also have to wait for the best time to release the insects. I received Puncturevine weevils last fall, a few months after I requested them, but I waited almost a year for the bindweed mites. To find a Request-a-bug form, go to www.colorado.govc/cs/Satellite/Agriculture-Main/CDAG/1167928159775.