Bio-Control in the Wood River Valley
The ERC’s Pesticide Action program is working to reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers in the Wood River Valley. One of our projects is to oversee the maintenance of and education around the Wood River Community Knapweed Bio-Control Insectary: a nursery for insects that eat Spotted-Knapweed (a very common and problematic noxious weed).
In an effort to control weeds, landowners often rely on chemicals that are destructive to native plant communities and harmful to environmental and human health. Chemicals are used every day to maintain school grounds, playing fields, and public paths, unnecessarily exposing our community to carcinogens, asthmagens, and developmental toxins. In Blaine County, a minimum of 11 pesticides are routinely sprayed, many of which are known neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors that cause reproductive damage and are linked to various cancers. One non-chemical weed strategy the ERC is promoting is the use of is bio-control. The ERC, in collaboration with the Forest Service and Blaine County Noxious Weed Department, maintains the Wood River Community Knapweed Bio-Control Insectary at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Headquarters where root-boring weevils (insects) are being grown to provide a chemical-alternative weed control to the Valley. Currently it costs /weevil; however, with this local insectary, each weevil will be given out free of charge and will be more effective as it will be habituated to our local ecosystem.
In this project, students will learn about noxious weeds, bio-control, and weevils. Students then have the option of taking a field trip to the insectary where they will see how the weevils are raised, assist with the maintenance of the insectary (age-dependent), and take a guided walk around the insectary. Otherwise, in the classroom, students can work on educational signage for the insectary or assist in the decoration of native seed packets that the ERC will distribute to the community. The ERC can make its classroom visit at any point; however, the field trip component will need to take place before the end of October or in late April or May when snow has melted from the insectary.