Foster Creek Conservation District
Foster Creek Conservation District


FCCD Biological Weed Control Program

Invasive weed species in Douglas County can cause loss of wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and increased costs to the agricultural community.


In 2000, FCCD began partnering with WSU Extension to identify the major invasive weeds within Douglas County to begin distributing biological control insects to help control their populations. To date, we have distributed over 267,000 bioagents to cooperators in the County.


Pictured to the right is Mecinus janthiniformis, the main agent to control Dalmatian toadflax. 


Biocontrol orders come prepared in small, presorted containers, making for an easy in-the-field release.  Clients are requested to return these containers for future releases. 




Before ordering more biocontrols, be sure to scout your fields - you may already have a population established.  This image shows the biocontrol, Mecinus janthiniformis, ready to overwinter in a Dalmatian toadflax stem. 


What is a noxious weed?

"Noxious Weed" is the traditional, legal term for invasive plants that are so aggressive they harm our local ecosystems or disrupt agricultural production. These plants crowd out the native species that fish and wildlife depend on. They also cost farmers millions of dollars in control efforts and lost production.


The term "noxious weed" includes non-native invasive plants, shrubs, and trees that grow on land, in wetlands, lakes, streams, or on shorelines.

Dalmation Toadflax
Canada Thistle
Common Mullein
Diffuse Knapweed

How do noxious weeds spread?

Wherever people travel, we take plants and seeds with us - sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally. When settlers first came to Washington, they accidentally brought seeds of Canada Thistle with them - a plant that is still a problem for farmers today.


Early settlers also brought scotch broom as an ornamental garden plant. In fact, about half of the invasive, noxious weeds in Washington are "escapees" from gardens. Cars, cargo ships, hiking boots, and even bicycle tires can all spread weed seeds, so more people travel and trade, the more likely we are to acidentlaly spread weed seeds.


Wildlife and domesticated animals also spread seeds either through their digestive systems or when seeds are carried in their fur.

Biological Weed Control...

Biological weed control is the "act of bringing back together the weed and its natural enemies". Only the biocontrol insects, which have run the gauntlet of the USDA tests, and demonstrated that they will starve rather than eat anything but their weed host are released.


Beneficial insects can manage your weeds when you have other things to do, but should be integrated with other week control methods for best results. The use of a biological control is a long-term method for weed management.


Anticipate results in three to five years.  An established biocontrol population for 5+ years in an infested area will yield greater results.  


FCCD can provide beneficial insects for:

  • Dalmation toadflax - agent Mecinus janthiniformis, foliage feeding/stem boring beetle
  • Diffuse, spotted, & meadow knapweed - agent Larinus minutus, seed eating beetle
  • Common mullein - agent Rhinusa (=Gymnetron) tetrum, seed eating beetle
  • Canada thistle - agent Urophora cardui, stem gall fly
  • Russian knapweed - agent Aulacidea acroptilonica, gall forming wasp or agent Jaapiella ivannikovi, shoot-tip gall midge (prefers moist areas throughout the growing season)
  • And more!


**We will no longer be providing the seed eating beetle for Canada thistle, as studies have shown that they can affect native thistles. Orders will be accepted for the stem gall fly. Please call us to discuss other options for controlling Canada thistle.**

Stem gall fly effect on Canada Thistle

The two photos above are an example of the effects that the stem gall fly has on Canada Thistle - weakening the plant's vigor and seedbank.



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Foster Creek Conservation District 203 S Rainier Waterville, WA 98858 509-888-6372 © Foster Creek CD