Marvin Hanks, Biologist at the Nez Perce Bio-control Center
Over the past 200 years, several thousand foreign plant and animal species have become established in the United States. About one in seven has become invasive, pushing aside native species. An invasive species is defined as a foreign species whose introduction does, or is likely to, cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. Invasive plants, animals, and aquatic organisms have significantly reduced the economic productivity and ecological balance of U. S. agriculture and natural resources. Many of our invasive weed problems originate in Europe and Asia at a climate similar to North America and where they are not “weeds” at all; they are simply being plants as part of the natural landscape evolving through time along with their natural checks and balances.
Biological Control puts natural enemies to work against invasive pests – plant, animal or insect. Classical Biological Control of Weeds is the intentional importation and release of carefully selected natural enemies to reduce the vigor and reproductive potential of a targeted non-native weed.
Biological Control of Weeds has had an outstanding record of safely managing invasive weeds for more than 100 years. In this time, 133 weed species have been targeted, and more than 350 biological control agents have been introduced into 70 countries. Biological control of weeds is stronger globally now then ever before. One of the most important reasons for this increased support is that land and natural area managers have realized that they have few effective tools other then biological control to manage invasive /noxious weeds.
The Nez Perce Tribe Bio-control Center (NPBC) in cooperation with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, University of Idaho and U.S.D.A. Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) specializes in biocontrol of invasive/noxious weeds and rearing/providing insect “agents” to help control/manage targeted weeds. At the Center located one mile up Bever Grade south of Lapwai, Idaho biocontrol agents are reared in controlled weed gardens and greenhouse. Bio-control Agent Nurseries have been established throughout the region at invasive weed sites where the weed is being controlled and at the same time providing agent collection by the biocontrol staff for redistribution to weed sites where agents are not yet established. The biocontrol staff provides a wide range of services including assisting land owners/managers develop a weed management strategy. “We can easily inventory your weed problem to determine if biocontrol agents are already present.”
Technical Transfer Workshops (a biological control educational tool) are conducted every summer at the Center and at strategic points throughout the Pacific Northwest. Workshops generally begin at the Center in June and continue through August in correlation with biocontrol insect emergence and mating activity taking place on targeted weeds. The main focus of workshops at this point in time is on Yellow starthistle and Spotted knapweed, perennial problems of most landowners/managers throughout the region. A workshop agenda begins with a presentation outlining the history, structure and function of Biological Control of Weeds and methodology of collecting and releasing biocontrol agents. The presentation at the Center normally lasts for two-three hours in the morning with a break for lunch (provided) and then we will go to the field in the afternoon and actually collect biocontrol insects.
Workshops are limited to 30 participants; we will have a biocontrol release pre-collected for each participant to take home plus what you collect in the field.