The flea beetle species are the most effective biocontrol agents for leafy spurge. They perform well in most places, but are known to thrive best in open well drained areas. Areas with relatively lush growth (riparian, wetter soils, some shading) are well served by adding the stem boring beetle Oberea erythrocephala. These insects work well together, providing greater impacts on spurge infestations.
Leafy spurge flea beetles
Aphthona species mix: The flea beetles are very effective insects that develop within the spurge root system. These insects have contributed to profound declines in spurge infestations. Aphthona larvae feed on root hairs and young roots, compromising the plant’s ability to take up moisture and nutrients. Adults feed on the foliage in the summer. Research in the Dakotas, Montana, and Canada has documented greater than 90% declines in plant density.
To provide for successful establishment and to account for site variations and conditions (such as soil
type, canopy cover, and moisture), we now provide a multiple-species mix in each release. This
combination of species assures the best possible results for your location.
Each release contains a mix/combination of the following species:
- A.nigriscutis, A.cyparissiae, A.lacertosa, A.flava, A.czwalinae
$150 per mixed release
Leafy spurge stem borer
Oberea erythrocephala: Adults girdling the stem and developing larvae feeding in the stem stress the plants and often cause shoot death. Larval feeding in the crown and root tissues diminishes root reserves. These hardy beetles do well in sunny sites, and also thrive in shady and riparian habitat. (Oberea larva in root; Oberea adults mating)
$125 per release (No discount on this insect)
Leafy spurge tip gall midge
Spurgia esulae: Larvae attack the growing shoot tips. The attacked apical tissue dies, preventing flowering, stimulating branching, and causing roots to send up new shoots. Multiple generations (up to three per summer) continue attacking new shoots. Recommended release sites have cooler areas (shading during part of the day) and dense spurge.
$50 per release