Weed-Killing Bugs to Improve Wildlife Habitat
MISSOULA, Mont. –-(Ammoland.com)- Some 3,000 weevils are scheduled for an Aug. 12 release into areas of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest near Anaconda, Mont.
If the bugs establish breeding populations and hold true to their species’ habit of boring into and killing spotted knapweed, a noxious plant that displaces native grasses and forbs, this “bio-control” project over time will improve significant habitat for elk and other wildlife.
The project is receiving funding and volunteer manpower from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, along with partnership and expertise from the U.S. Forest Service.
The weevil species to be released, Cyphocleonus achates, is known for laying eggs at the base of spotted knapweed plants. Developing larvae bore into the taproot, damaging weed tissues and eventually killing the plant.
“Elk Foundation volunteers will be releasing weevils in the Stucky Ridge area,” said Dale Kerkvliet, RMEF director of Habitat Stewardship Services.
“These bugs are used more and more in tandem with herbicides because using multiple tools to combat noxious weeds helps ensure effective and long-lasting results. Once the weeds are gone, native grasses, forbs and shrubs will return, improving habitat for elk and wildlife in general.”
Forest Service Range Specialist Cameron Rasor said, “We’ll be releasing 200 bugs in each of 15 different sites–some of which also were weevil release sites last year. We hope to find populations of insects that were able to overwinter as larvae and emerge as adults this year. If we find adult weevils already living at the release sites, I’ll consider this project headed for success.”
RMEF and officials with the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest are planning a variety of collaborative projects to enhance 17,000 acres of elk habitat over a 10-year span. The weevil release is a highlight of the partnership’s third year.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.8 million acres–a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.