Current Research

Canada Thistle

Integrated Weed Management of Canada Thistle

Background Problem: Canada thistle is a difficult to control weed in agricultural settings with large economic impacts. We are investigating IWM techniques for Canada thistle in combination with the rust fungus Puccinia punctiformis.

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: An 80 plot, complete block design experiment has been set up to look at control of canada thistle with mowing, tillage, herbicide, rust fungus, and combinations of all treatments being tested over several years.

Timeline: The experiment was established in Spring 2020 and will run through Spring 2023.

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): ARDP funded grant in cooperation with Dr. Robert Schaeffer and Caitlin Henderson of Utah State University

Biological Control of Canada thistle using the rust fungus Puccinia punctiformis.

Background Problem: Canada thistle is one of the most widespread and difficult to control weeds in Colorado.  

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: Five monitoring plots measuring stem density, stem height, and identifying environmental conditions were established in 5 separate counties across Colorado.

Timeline: The experiment was established in 2020 and will continue for 3-5 years.

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): ARDP funded grant in cooperation with Dr. Robert Schaeffer and Caitlin Henderson of Utah State University

Improving the production, distribution, and post-release monitoring of Puccinia punctiformis, a naturalized rust fungus for the biological control of Canada thistle, in the West.

Background Problem: Canada thistle is one of the most widespread and difficult to control weeds in the US.

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: Distribution of the biological control agent, Puccinia punctiformis, to state and federal weed managers in neighboring western states. Currently, 11 states are participating (WA, MT, OR, ID, WY, ND, SD, NV, UT, CA, and NM) in establishing their own Canada thistle biological control programs utilizing the Colorado Department of Agriculture monitoring, inoculation, and collection guidelines and protocols.  

Timeline: Grant was awarded to the Department of Agriculture, Palisade Insectary in 2017. Ongoing support for neighboring states continues.

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): Carol Randall from USDA Forest Service, Biological Control of Invasive Plants (BCIP) Grant. Interested State or Federal weed managers outside of Colorado can contact Karen Rosen at the Department of Agriculture, Palisade Insectary.

Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative to help organic farmers manage Canada thistle in their fields, gardens, and orchards.

Background Problem: Organic farmers, ranchers, and producers have limited options for controlling Canada thistle, particularly ones that are in compliance with rules and regulations for organic certification.

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: Current work and research focus on releasing and establishing the biocontrol rust fungus, Puccinia punctiformis onto organic production farms and ranches struggling to control Canada thistle throughout the state. Study monitoring plots measuring stem density, field visits, and educational workshops are offered as part of the program.

Timeline: Began in 2019 and is ongoing

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) grant. Certified Organic farmers, ranchers, and producers can contact Karen Rosen at the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Palisade Insectary.

Dalmatian Toadflax

Biological Control of Dalmatian toadflax

Background Problem: Dalmatian toadflax is an herbaceous invasive weed in North America that is especially threatening to rangeland plant communities. It also contains compounds that can be toxic to cattle and horses. Toadflax spreads by seed and mostly by underground roots that give rise to new shoots making it difficult to control Cost of other treatment options under rangeland conditions are cost-prohibitive and largely ineffective.

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: Current work focuses on the collection and re-release of the biological control agent, Mecinus janthiniformis, the Dalmatian toadflax stem weevil. After the initial release, weed and agent populations are monitored annually in several different locations.

Timeline: The Mecinus janthiniformis project began in Colorado in 1997 and continues today with continuous annual monitoring.

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): Many Federal, State, and local agencies, as well as private landowners, have cooperated on this project. We are seeking new release sites in areas that have recently burned.

Diffuse/Spotted Knapweed

N/A

Emerald Ash Borer

N/A

Japanese Beetle

N/A

Peach Moth

Biological control of Peach Moth

Background Problem: The larvae of the Oriental Fruit Moth causes damage to new spring growth in peach trees (flagging) and if left unchecked, internal damage to peaches as the larvae bores into the peach and continues to feed making the fruit unfit for sale or consumption.

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: Rearing of the stingless, parisitoid wasp, Macrocentrus ancylivoris has provided good control of the Oriental Fruit Moth since its inception.

Timeline: This project began in 1945 and continues with great success today. Peach growers using this biocontrol do not need to spray for Oriental Fruit Moth.

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): Only commercial peach growers in the Grand Valley of Colorado are able to participate in this program.

Puncturevine

Biological control of puncturevine

Background Problem: Puncturevine or goathead is a serious competitor with crops, particularly in dry conditions where its ability to extract moisture from great depths is an advantage. The spiny fruits or burrs are capable of puncturing the stomach linings of sheep and cattle and the plant itself is toxic to livestock. In addition, the seeds of T. terrestris are notorious as a nuisance to pedestrians and bicycle tires.

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: This project focuses on the collection and redistribution of two biological control agents: Microlarinus lareynii, the puncturevine seed weevil, and Microlarinus lypriformis, the puncturevine stem weevil.

Timeline: This project began in 1961 with the introduction of the two weevils and is ongoing.

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): Monitoring sites that will not be disturbed by spraying or other control means for at least five years are always being sought.

Tamarisk / Diorhabda

Long-Term Ecological Monitoring of Tamarisk and its Biocontrol Diorhabda carinulata

Background Problem: Tamarisk is a highly invasive weed of riparian areas in the western U.S. It has fully invaded the river corridors of Dinosaur National Monument which are important ecologically, economically, and recreationally. Releases of D. carinulata were made beginning in 2006 to help control tamarisk in these remote river canyons.

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: Monitoring of tamarisk and D. carinulata interactions has occurred every year since release providing one of the longest ecological studies in N. America. This work will hopefully elucidate the long-term interactions of introduced biocontrols on noxious invasive pests in riparian corridors.

Timeline: Monitoring began in 2006 and we hope to have a complete 20-year data set.

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): National Park Service at Dinosaur National Monument

Yellow Starthistle

Laboratory Rearing of Yellow Starthistle Root Weevils

Background Problem: Yellow Starthistle is a highly invasive weed of the Western U.S. It causes significant economic and ecological damage. A new root weevil has been approved for release but due to its small size and cryptic lifecycle, laboratory rearing is the best means to increase the population.

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: Laboratory rearing of Ceratapion basicorne is currently being implemented at three sites within the U.S. including the Palisade Insectary. We are currently investigating rearing methods and hope to build laboratory populations to a point that we can reliably do field releases and research the lifecycle of C. basicorne.

Timeline: The project began in Spring 2021

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): Dr. Lincoln Smith with USDA ARS in California and Paul Brusven, Coordinator of the Nez Perce Biocontrol Center in Idaho

Yellow Toadflax

Biological Control of yellow toadflax

Background Problem: Yellow toadflax is an herbaceous invasive weed in North America that is especially threatening to forest and rangeland plant communities. It also contains compounds that can be toxic to cattle and horses. Toadflax spreads by seed and mostly by underground roots that give rise to new shoots making it difficult to control Cost of other treatment options under rangeland conditions are cost-prohibitive and largely ineffective.

Research/Hypothesis/Current Work: Current work focuses on the collection and re-release of the biological control agent, Mecinus janthinus, the yellow toadflax stem weevil. After the initial release, weed and agent populations are monitored annually in several different locations.

Timeline: Mecinus janthiniformis project began in Colorado in 1997 and continues today with continuous annual monitoring.

Cooperators/Grant Info/Ways to Participate (if applicable): Many Federal, State, and local agencies, as well as private landowners, have cooperated on this project. Lower elevation sites (< 7500’) are sought for release and monitoring.