Misconceptions about biological controls



By Ethan Proud
PREVIEW Columnist

For some, biological controls (biocontrols) seem like a silver bullet, capable of removing invasive species without using herbicides. To others, it seems counterintuitive to release a non-native species on an invasive species wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.

Biocontrols, unfortunately, do not eradicate a population, though there are some exceptions and populations can decrease by large margins when an insect herbivore is released into the environment. These biocontrol agents will suppress the population of invasive species and can help slow the spread, though they will not completely eradicate the noxious weed. 

Biocontrols must be released repeatedly to see success and a onetime release will not yield great results. Paired with chemical or mechanical control, an acceptable level of control can be achieved. Release biocontrols in areas that are difficult to reach with a backpack, ATV mounted sprayer or equipment for manual control. It’s easier to hike into a difficult area with a small container of insects than it is to carry a shovel and a bag — especially when the bag is completely full and it is time to hike out. Utilize mechanical and chemical control around the perimeter of the release site and you will have a one-two punch, biocontrols suppressing the heart of the infestation and chemical or mechanical control containing the spread.

When it comes to approving a new biocontrol agent, the insects must first be carefully studied through a round of choice and no-choice tests, where it is determined that A) the insect will feed on only the target species and B) the insect will starve to death before finding a new food source. These tests are conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine Program, or USDA APHIS PPQ for short. The process of approval takes many years, meaning that new biocontrol agents are not only very exciting, but few and far between.

In short, biocontrol agents need to be paired with another control method to be truly effective and they are not an option for certain weeds. However, they are a great tool for integrated pest management and can reduce our dependency on herbicides.

For more information on biological control agents that can be released in Colorado and are available to landowners, visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture website and click Biocontrols underneath the Conservation Banner.

Archuleta County Weed and Pest is your local resource for managing noxious weed populations and controlling other pests.

Upcoming events

Tails and Tales — Two presentation are being offered in partnership with the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library series. Both talks will be live and in person at the Extension office at 6 p.m.

June 30 — Doug Purcell from Colorado Parks and Wildlife will talk about living with wildlife. 

July 7 — Robin Young will talk about how to manage wildlife when gardening and composting. 

Archuleta County
Fair set for Aug. 5-8

Have you ever wanted to enter the Archuleta County Fair? Maybe you are a bread maker or you preserve food. Maybe you grow vegetables, crops or flowers. Would you like to show off your goods? It’s easy. Go to https://www.archuletacountyfair.com/ and look up the 2021 Fair book. The rules are on page 24. Judging will be Aug. 4. If you have further questions, please email archuletacountyfair@gmail.com. You could be the grand champion at the Archuleta County Fair. 

Visit online

Visit us on the Web at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/ or like us on Facebook and get more information: https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY.

CPR and first aid classes

CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office, generally on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at 246-5931 to register.