September 2017
Welcome to the Teton County Weed and Pest District newsletter! We plan on updating subscribers on useful information pertaining to Mosquitoes and Invasive Species.

Check out our website!

In this edition you will find information regarding:
  •  TCWP Plans Aerial Assault on Cheatgrass this Fall!
  • Give Bees a Chance - TCWP Efforts to BEE Friendly.
  • Ho to Put Perennial Weeds to Bed FOR GOOD!
  • Upcoming Events - Old Bills Fun Run, September Board Meeting, and Wild Science Festival
This Fall TCWP Will Treat Cheatgrass From the Air!
Teton County Weed and Pest will be conducting aerial weed spraying to mitigate the invasion of cheatgrass in a test area on East Gros Ventre Butte this fall.

East Gros Ventre Butte is currently infested with cheatgrass, reducing winter forage available to mule deer, and increasing the risk of wildfire
to homeowners in the area.
This project is funded by the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust and monitored according to guidelines developed by the University of Wyoming Extension Office.  The project has several partners and contributors that include Jackson Hole Weed Management Association, Town of Jackson, Jackson Hole Land Trust, and Jackson Hole Fire/EMS.

Cheatgrass is a winter annual, meaning it germinates in the fall, flowers and seeds in the spring, and dies in early summer. This life cycle helps it to
out-compete native grasses.
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum ), also known as downy brome, threatens wildlife and native plants because of its ability to out-compete native vegetation. Originally from the Mediterranean region, the non-native and invasive cheatgrass takes its name from "cheating" native grasses and plants of their habitat. It has an aggressive, quick-growing life cycle that gives it a competitive advantage over other plants.

Dead cheatgrass, characteristically purple, creates a serious fire hazard in
Teton County mid-summer .
First recorded in Teton County in 1927, cheatgrass infests almost 10,000 acres in the county today. It significantly diminishes  the quality of wildlife habitat, especially the critical mule deer winter range. It dries early in the summer, making it a serious fire risk much of the year potentially leading to more frequent and larger fires and further habitat loss.

Note the large patch of cheatgrass (purple) infesting this critical winter range for mule deer.

Large infestations of cheatgrass are challenging to control. While several cheatgrass mitigation projects have been conducted via horseback in Teton County, the steep slope and rough terrain on East Gros Ventre Butte make it difficult to conduct ground mitigation.
The steep and rugged terrain on East Gros Ventre Butte makes treating cheatgrass via backpack and horseback financially unsustainable.

This fall, a pilot project will test the efficacy of applying herbicide by helicopter in a trial area consisting of 360 acres on East Gros Ventre Butte.
"This is an important first step to protect critical habitat for mule deer and give native plants and all wildlife a fighting chance against this highly invasive plant," said Mark Daluge, Teton County Weed and Pest Assistant Supervisor.
"Based on effective treatment in other test areas which resulted in no significant negative impact to native vegetation or wildlife, we anticipate the cheatgrass mitigation pilot project will be successful."

Derek Ellis from Jackson Hole Land Trust assists with measuring current cheatgrass density on East Gros Ventre Butte so that post-treatment comparisons can be made.

Only small amounts of Bayer Esplanade and/or BASF Plateau herbicide are required to gain an upper hand on cheatgrass. These two herbicides are certified to be non-toxic to a wide range of organisms, including mammals, birds, fish and insects. No effects to people, pets, non-target plants or wildlife are anticipated.

Treatment of cheatgrass on East Gros Ventre Butte is expected to enhance forage availability on mule deer winter range.

Applying the herbicide via low-flying helicopter eliminates "drift" by taking advantage of the helicopter's rotor wash to effectively push the herbicide to the ground. The spraying will occur on a day with calm winds in early
Aerial spraying via helicopter is an efficient and labor-saving strategy for treating cheatgrass in steep and rugged terrain, and is much more economical than treating via backpack or horseback.
 Representatives will be present on site for public safety and information. Access to East Gros Ventre Butte will be limited during active spraying operations, and drone aircrafts are strictly prohibited.

Additional information about this project can be found on our website HERE.
Questions may be directed to Mark Daluge at 307-733-8419.
Teton County Weed and Pest Control District is a legally organized Weed and Pest District by Wyoming State Statutes (W.S.11-5-101 through 119). The District, established by the Wyoming State Legislature in 1973, consists of a locally appointed government board charged with implementing and pursuing an effective program for the control of designated and declared weeds and pests.

Give Bees a Chance! TCWP Efforts to BEE Friendly
Honey bees are getting a lot of attention these days. As TCWP employee Michael Lamere puts it, "You don't know how important pollinators are until they are gone!"
Michael knows the importance of bees as pollinators because he has kept bees on-and-off since he was 12 years old. He now has an impressive collection of 15 hives housing a total of 750,000 bees!
Michael Lamere, who works for the TCWP Mosquito abatement program,  
tends to his 15 beehives. 
He describes bee-keeping as a cross between setting out feeders for birds and maintaining a herd of goats. Like hummingbirds and songbirds, bees add beauty to your surroundings by performing the necessary role of pollinating flowers so they thrive and reproduce. If you have a vegetable garden, they pollinate your tomatoes and squash, giving you a more prolific harvest. But in the same way that goats offer a service - eating weeds and other undesirable vegetation - bees produce honey, which Michael bottles and sells under the label, Sweet Life Wyoming.

Many of us know "pollen" as the airborne material that triggers our allergies in the spring and summer. But pollen is also the genetic material that male flowers contribute to female flowers, allowing flowering plants to reproduce. Although pollen can travel through wind and water, many plants require animal pollinators - insects, bats and birds - to assist them in getting the pollen to the right place for reproduction.
Pollinators transfer tiny grains of pollen from the pollen-dusted anthers to the sticky stigma of a flower, where genetic material is transferred down through the style to the ovary. Here ovules are fertilized and become seeds of  
future generations of flowers.

Bees are the most important animal pollinators in Wyoming. There are about 800 native species of bees in the state, most of which are solitary ground nesters like bumblebees. These bees pollinate our native flowers and their presence maintains the breath-taking wildflower displays we see each spring.  
Bumblebees are important pollinators of native wildflowers in Wyoming.
But we also depend on bees for our food crops. In the United States, European honeybees pollinate more than 100 different crops- Almonds, citrus and other fruit trees most notably. These bees are not native to North America and do not live "in the wild." Instead, they live in hives that are managed by people like Michael. These commercial honey bee operations are now essential to agricultural production because the insects that would otherwise pollinate these crops have been wiped out by the wide-spread use of chemical pesticides in agriculture.
European honey bees are used commercially to pollinate food crops where native pollinators have been eliminated by chemical pesticides

But now commercial honeybees, as well as bumblebees, moths, butterflies, bats, wasps and other native pollinators, are facing serious declines worldwide. The term "Colony Collapse Disorder" refers to a phenomenon that is now being experienced world-wide at unprecedented levels in which the majority of bees abandon a hive, leading to its collapse. There is still no clear explanation for the bees' disappearance, but some possibilities include pesticide poisoning, habitat loss, mite infestation of hives and stress-related diseases.  
Graph showing increasing loss of managed honey bee colonies since 2006. Annual losses up to 20% are considered acceptable.
2015 experienced a 37.5% loss.  

Did you know that TCWP had an amateur bee expert on our seasonal crew this year? Meg Wickless, a Biology student at the University of Maryland is actually studying Colony Collapse Disorder and shared her insights. She is researching "Age-related Effects of Exposure to Fluvalinate on Honey Bee learning and memory." It is a mouthful, but here is the gist of it:
Fluvalinate is a miticide, a chemical that kills mites, and Varroa mites are a common vector of several diseases that kill honey bees. Hives are often infested with mites and treated with miticides, including fluvalinate.
There is concern that fluvalinate causes a decline in honey bee learning and memory. Why are learning and memory important to bees? When worker bees leave their hive to look for food, they need to remember how to get back. When they find food, they need to communicate to the rest of the colony where it is. Without the ability to learn and remember, it is easy to imagine how a whole swarm of worker bees could get lost and never return to their hive!
Varroa mite (red) attacking honey bee nymph. Diseases carried by these mites as well as the miticides used to kill them are suspected of contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder. 
Meg is looking at the effects of fluvalinate on bee learning and memory, and in particular, how this changes with age of the bee. Her research mentor, Dennis Van Engelsdorp actually discovered Colony Collapse Disorder - no big deal!
Meg Wickless worked on our seasonal spray crew this summer. She has since returned to University of Maryland to continue her research on the effects of fluvalinate on honey bee learning and memory and help unravel the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder. 

But what about pesticides? Concerned citizens frequently call TCWP to ask if any of the chemicals we use or sell affect bees. Many chemical pesticides are toxic to bees. Particularly, any that contain neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, and organophosphates , as these chemicals affect the central nervous system of insects. The herbicides used by TCWP for spraying weeds, including those we sell to public, have mechanisms of action that are plant-specific and have no corresponding effect on insects. But if one wanted to take extra precautions, it is fairly easy to prevent exposure of bees to herbicides by following our recommendations to spray weeds in spring and fall, when they are not flowering, and not visited by pollinators. If this window is missed, herbicides can be applied at dawn and dusk when bees are not active due to colder temperatures.
If you spray your musk thistle in its spring or fall rosette stage, you can avoid exposing insect pollinators to herbicides, though those purchased at TCWP are not toxic to bees. 
When the public wants to know if our mosquito treatments harm bees, the answer is trickier. Our mosquito program tries to target mosquitoes in the larval stage by applying a product called VectoBac to standing water containing larvae. VectoBac contains a protein derived from a native soil bacterium ( Bacillus thuringensis) that, when ingested by mosquito and other aquatic fly larvae, kills them without harming other aquatic life. Once applied to water, VectoBac is only active for 48 hours,  and any mosquito larvae that ingest it during that time will be killed. This method has been very successful at reducing mosquito populations in Teton County without posing any risk to bees.
But if we do not succeed in killing all mosquitoes in their larval life stage, which is inevitable, our only remaining option is to spray for the adults. Adults are treated with a non-selective pyrethrin-based product called AquaHalt. This is applied with an ultra-low volume sprayer which creates a fog of micro-droplets that each contain a lethal dose of pyrethrin for an insect the size of a mosquito. When flying insects of the right size collide with these droplets, they are killed. Unfortunately, this chemical DOES harm bees. So the TCWP Mosquito Abatement Program takes the following precautions  to avoid harming bees while keeping mosquitoes at bay:
1)  We assure that the droplets emitted by our sprayers are as small as they can   be while still being effective against mosquitoes so that larger insects like bees are less likely to be harmed.
2)  We spray for adult mosquitoes at dusk, when mosquitoes are active and bees are not.
3)  We keep GIS maps of beehive locations so we can avoid spraying in those areas.
4)  We strive to expand our larviciding program so we minimize the need to spray for adults at all.
With Michael's consultation, we maintain our own beehive here at TCWP! 
Now here is what YOU can do to BEE friendly:
1) Make sure TCWP has permission to treat any mosquito larvae habitat on your property to reduce our need to spray for adults.
2) Plant a pollinator-friendly garden with a variety of NATIVE wildflowers (no noxious weeds please) to provide a food source for bees.
3) When spraying weeds, do it in spring and fall when pollinators are not actively visiting flowers. This is also a more effective time to kill the weeds. You can also time your spraying for dawn and dusk when bees are not active.
4) If you find a colony of bees on your property, DON'T DESTROY IT! Instead, call TCWP and ask for Michael Lamere, our resident bee keeper, and he will move it to a safer place.
Thank you for reading.
Now let's work together to give bees a chance!

Put Pesky Perennial Weeds to Bed - For Good!!!
Perennial invasive plants like Canada thistle and common tansy can be a pesky problem. Their root systems prevent mechanical removal and allow the plants to return year after year.    
Canada Thistle is one of those pesky perennials that cannot be pulled by hand due to its extensive underground root system.  
Treating perennial weeds early in the growing season can prevent flowering and seed production, but the best way to kill a perennial plant and keep it from returning year after year is to target the root system. With the appropriate herbicides and timing of treatment, the roots of perennial species can be killed, putting them to bed forever!
Weed species that reproduce vegetatively through spreading of underground stems (rhizomes) are called "creeping perennials." These generally cannot be pulled by hand and require chemical treatment. 
To succeed in this endeavor, one must first know a little more about herbicides and how they work.  "Contact" herbicides kill plant tissue on contact, usually by rupturing cell walls, and only kill the parts of the plant they come into contact with. Examples include Paraquat, Diquat, Propanil and Dinoseb.  
Contact herbicides kill any plant tissue they touch, usually by destroying the cell walls and membranes that hold the plant together.
Alternatively, "Systemic" herbicides are absorbed into the plant through roots and leaves and are translocated throughout the plant, where they then impede biological processes that are necessary for life.  Systemic herbicides, like Milestone, Opensite and Telar are  the type needed to kill perennial weeds because they are translocated to the roots and rhizomes where they kill the entire plant, not just the top.   
Systemic herbicides are absorbed into a plant's circulatory system and translocated throughout the plant where they disrupt biological processes, eventually killing the plant
Systemic herbicides like Milestone and Opensight are absorbed by a plant and transported in whichever direction the plant is moving nutrients at that time. During spring and summer, plants are moving nutrients to sites of leaf and flower production. Treatment at this time will start killing the plant at the top. But in the fall, perennial plants begin to move nutrients down into their root system where they can be stored until next spring. After the first fall frost, plants are triggered to speed up this process. This knowledge can help you kill your pesky perennial weeds!

Treatment of perennial weeds with systemic herbicides after the first hard frost in fall can trick plants into transporting the herbicide down to its root system along with the nutrients,  thereby killing the root system and putting the weeds to bed for good! 
Have a nice winter Canada Thistle...see ya next spring...NOT!!! 

Old Bills Fun Run, September 9th from 8-12

September Board Meeting, Tuesday, September 26 from 12 - 2

Jackson Hole Wild Science Festival, Sunday-Monday, October 1-2

Visit our Event Calendar on our website for more info. 

Thank you for subscribing to the Teton County Weed and Pest District Newsletter. We hope that you find the information useful! If there are any topics that would be of interest to you, please email me your suggestions. 




Meta Dittmer
Teton County Weed and Pest District
7575 S. Hwy 89 Jackson, WY 83001