Field Bindweed Biocontrol

What is Field Bindweed?

Field bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis, is an invasive perennial herb found throughout most of the temperate regions of North America and Eurasia. It is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean area and western Asia and was first documented in the United States in the early 1700s. From its original infestation on the east coast, it has slowly moved west across the United States and is now a serious pest in the Western states.

How to Identify Field Bindweed

Field bindweed is a prostrate or climbing perennial vine. Stems can reach up to 3 meters in length and bear an abundance of white or pink funnel-shaped flowers. The roots and rhizomes can extend over an area of up to 6 meters in diameter and have a taproot penetrating the soil up to 3 meters below the surface of the soil. The weed reproduces by long-lived seeds or by sprouts that arise from the lateral roots. Seeds may remain viable for up to 50 years in the soil.

Effects of Field Bindweed

Field bindweed is mainly a pest of cultivated land but is also found along roadsides, fallow fields, and other non-cultivated areas. Its extensive root system makes it highly competitive with other plants for nutrients and water and its long stems twine about the stems of cultivated plants, interfering with their growth and harvest. Herbicide treatment can be quite costly with minimal effect.

Biological Control

Biological control for Field bindweed includes a microscopic mite, Aceria malherbaeThe mites infest the newest growth of the plant by forming a leaf gall. The gall is basically a small nursery housing the developing culture of mites. This initially reduces flowering and stunts the growth of the stems. Mites overwinter on the root buds and emerge again with spring growth. The activity of the mites can kill the bindweed.

FAQ

What is a gall?

A gall is the plants' reaction to the invader, in this case, a mite. It works to the benefit of the mites by creating a protected habitat for their development. The leaves become twisted or ball-shaped structures.

How long does it take to control bindweed?

Under drought stressed conditions, field bindweed can be controlled and sometimes killed in the first year. Often it takes two or three years for the plant to die. Control begins at the time of establishment as seed production is minimized.

How do I request Bindweed mites?

You can place an order on the Request-a-Bug page.

What happens to the biocontrol agents once the bindweed is gone?

The mites are transferred by the wind to new locations of field bindweed.

What is the best release site?

In a thick infestation of bindweed that will not be sprayed with herbicide, pesticide, or heavy watering.

Is there a charge?

The mites are $35.00 per 1,000 galls.

Is there a way to facilitate the success of the mites?

Yes, mowing the infested bindweed helps to spread the mites to new locations.

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