by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO- The Upper Huerfano Conservation District is joining in a pilot project this month to test bio-controls on leafy spurge in Huerfano County. Leafy spurge, a noxious weed that USDA Agricultural Research Service has estimated causes over $100 million in economic losses each year, has taken hold in Huerfano County and threatens the livestock, real estate and tourist industries here.
UHCD has partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to release red-headed leafy spurge stem borers at three locations with heavy leafy spurge infestations. The larvae of the stem borers will bore down through the stem to the root crown, weakening the plant and stopping seed production. The pilot project will determine if the stem borers can be successful at this elevation. Stem borers are typically released with leafy spurge flea beetles for best results.
According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture Insectary in Palisade, foreign exploration finds insect species to control invasive weeds in the U.S. as an alternative to using herbicides. The foreign species are quarantined until it is determined that they are not hazardous to native species. For more information on the work of the Insectary, see: www.colorado.gov/cs/ Satellite/Agriculture-Main/CDAG/1167928215160 .