There are an estimated 1 million acres of leafy spurge in North Dakota.
It’s one of the state’s most noxious weeds.
It spreads fast and can take over pasture land.
Heidi Werosta shows us that there is an unusual fix to the problem.
GC Lund, Sioux County Rancher, says, “We are finally starting to get spurge on our land and we want something to get it stopped right away.”
In this random field, about 7 miles south of Mandan — 100 farmers and ranchers came to collect.
Leafy spurge and flea beetles are both not native to North Dakota, but for farmers and ranchers they want the beetles.
Dave Hirsch, USDA, says, “They are proven to be completely specific to leafy spurge. They won’t attack trees or crops or any other native plants or anything only spurge.”
Carol Hille has seen success on her own ranch. It’s taken time but the invasive weed has dwindled in the last 5 years.
Hille says for her, this is the only was to go.
Carol Hille, Rancher/Farmer in Mandan, says, “If you try spraying all of your cropland — it’s too dangerous plus you kill trees and everything else and I don’t like chemicals.”
Not only that– Hille says the bugs come free.
Only four counties in the state have bug collection sites.
And, according to an USDA expert…. spurge has decreased in those counties.
Hirsch says, “Ward county for example. They’ve had phenomenal success and they really don’t need to as much as they used to.”
It’s a tough weed to control — especially for the 6,000 acres Lund owns.
Lund says, “We try everything we can to keep it from coming in.”
Hirsch said in the first hour they probably caught about 75,000 beetles.
The goal for the day is to get at least half a million.
Hirsch says the next couple of weeks is when the beetles are active and it is good to get the beetles now, otherwise, they will go back under the ground.