I've got a terrible infestation of bindweed in my garden. I've tried unsuccessfully for a few years to pull it out of my pachysandra, English Ivy, and other sections of my garden. Finally, I looked up and found out the name of this invasive plant and to my horror found out that it's nearly impossible to irradicate. Upon further investigation, I located several articles on the use of bindweed mites that sounded promising. Do you know where I may be able to purchase these mites? I live in Illinois in the western suburbs of Chicago.
Thanks so much! MP
Currently I have no leads for you, but I do have your question out to an expert in New Mexico who may have some ideas. As soon as there is an answer, it will be forwarded to you.
Here is what I heard back today. This sounds both complicated and far from certain; you would be an experimental station, more or less. If you want to take this on, please do keep in touch with Extension, as we would like to know how it works out. This is what the scientists working with this had to say:
First, the mite is not very effective in tilled situations because it has to have living bindweed to survive and tillage kills the living part long enough to starve out the mites. If your client does not use tillage in her garden the mite could be of benefit. That being said, very little work has been done with the mites in the eastern USA because it appeared to be susceptible to high humidity. An alternative to the mite for higher humidity areas is Tyta luctuosa, a moth that I know nothing about other than its name. Recently, however, we have been able to establish them in Saint Louis. There also is interest in trying them in New York.
Before mites can be moved into states where they are currently not already widespread, they have to be permitted through USDA APHIS and the recipient state. That is a single process that can take 4-6 weeks or so if things go smoothly. USDA will allow the transfer and seek permission for importation by the recipient state.
The first step will be to get a permit from USDA APHIS to import the mites into Illinois (https://epermits.aphis.usda.gov/epermits/). You have to do that as a resident of Illinois, but I will be glad to help. The person filling out a permit (2009-10) to import mites to Saint Louis had the following questions when filling out the form. that I tried to answer in ALL CAPS (she started the process in mid-October and had her permit by Thanksgiving). Another individual from New York also cleared the USDA part of the process fairly quickly:
Block 3: Indicate which type of pest is to be moved; Pathogens, Arthropods, Noxious weeds, or other. If you choose "other" enter the organism type on the provided line. Diagnostic laboratories would select "other" and enter "diagnostic" on the line and in blocks 4-6 list the type of organisms (e.g., phytopathogenic bacteria, plant viruses, or nematodes). Check "other" if pest status is unknown or not
described in the categories provided (e.g., nematode-trapping fungi). Do I check Arthropod or other and then list Bio-Control Organism?
I SUPPOSE IT IS AN ARTHROPOD. THE USDA APHIS FORM I'VE USED INCLUDES THE BINDWEED MITE IN THE CATEGORY OF BIOCONTROL ORGANISMS - INVERTEGRATE HERBIVORES OF WEEDS. ARE YOU SUBMITTING THE PERMIT THROUGH APHIS? THAT'S WHAT I RECOMMEND. THEY WILL HANDLE ALL THE DETAILS WITH MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR APPROVAL AND LET YOU KNOW THE OUTCOME.
Columns A and B; Scientific Name and Classification: Enter the scientific name (genus and species) and the author, if known (e.g., Cinara strobi (Fitch) or Baris lepidii Germar). If sub-designations exist, list them, e.g. races, pathovars, subspecies, strains, or geographic isolates. If unknown enter as "unknown." If the species is unknown, list the genus and, if possible, other identification such as a specimen or culture number. If sub-designations such as races, pathovars, subspecies or strains are desired, list the appropriate sub-designation. If these are not known or are undetermined, then enter "unknown." Use correct spelling. Viruses should be identified using approved descriptive names. Not sure if this was correct?
THIS LOOKS RIGHT. THE GENUS AND SPECIES IS ACERIA MALHERBAE NUZZACI
Column C; Life Stages: For invertebrate animals use eggs, juveniles, larvae, nymphs, pupae, or adults. For fungi use spores, mycelia, fruiting bodies. For bacteria and viruses enter "N/A." For plants use seeds, whole plants, or plant parts (such as leaves, stems, fruits, etc.) The life stages present when they are being shipped or life stages?
INDICATE ALL LIFE STAGES. THERE WILL LIKELY BE EGGS THROUGH ADULT.
Column D: Enter the number of specimens or units. How many would be shipped?
ONE UNIT WILL BE SHIPPED. THIS WILL BE COMPOSED OF LIVING BINDWEED STEMS WITH NO ROOTS OR REPRODUCTIVE PARTS THAT ARE INFESTED WITH (HOPEFULLY) A HEAVY POPULATION OF MITES. THE STEMS WILL BE IN A MOISTENED PAPER BAG AND SHIPPED OVERNITE IN A COOLER WITH ICEPACKS. THE BAG OF STEMS IS THE UNIT. IT'S A LUNCH SIZED BAG ABOUT HALF FULL.
Column F; Organism Establishment: If the requested organism/biotype/pathovar/isolate/etc. is of limited distribution in the United States, describe its distribution on an attached sheet. Texas, (Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma)?
POSSIBLY ALL WESTERN STATES EXCEPT CALIFORNIA; IT ALSO HAS BEEN SHIPPED TO OHIO, BUT I HAVEN'T HEARD ABOUT ANY RESULTS FROM THERE.
Column G; Major Hosts: List the scientific name of the major hosts (or prey) of the organisms applied for, even when you do not intend to include them in shipments of the organisms for which you are
applying. Enter "N/A" for non-parasitic noxious weeds. Does it have a prey?
THE ONLY KNOWN HOSTS ARE FIELD BINDWEED AND HOLLYHOCK BINDWEED, WHICH IS A NATIVE WILDFLOWER IN CALIFORNIA.
Block 7; Media or host material accompanying the organism: List scientific name of host organisms or host plants that will accompany material in shipments. Be specific and accurate e.g. seeds, dried leaves, tissue cultures, fruits, stems, or soil. For nonparasitic weeds, enter "N/A." For pathogens, list all components of the media. Describe the culture as pure or mixed with contaminants and identify known contaminants. If an application is only for 'pure culture' to be moved, the permit conditions will state that only 'pure cultures' are allowed, and if seeds, leaves and/or other materials are present in a shipment, then the entire shipment may be rejected at the PPQ Inspection Station. It will be shipped with Convolvulus correct?
YES, AS DESCRIBED ABOVE.
Block 10: Enter the estimated dates of shipments and/or releases, if known.
SHIPMENTS ARE MADE WHEN THE BINDWEED AT THE SOURCE AND THE RELEASE AREA IS ACTIVELY GROWING.
Block 11: Enter the approximate number of shipments. For multiple shipments, indicate the number per a given time period, e.g. 2 per year. Just one shipment?
ONE SHIPMENT, BUT IF YOU FEEL SOMETHING HAPPENED TO INTERFERE WITH MITE COLONIZATION, MORE SHIPMENTS COULD BE MADE. I SUGGEST THAT YOU LIST THE RELEASE AREA AS MISSOURI INSTEAD OF YOUR ADDRESS. THAT WAY WE CAN USE THE SAME PERMIT TO SHIP ANYWHERE IN THE STATE.
Block 12: Enter the supplier's name and address.
Mr. Leonard Lauriault
New Mexico State University Plant and Environmental Sciences Dept.
6502 Quay Rd AM.5
Tucumcari, NM 88401
Block 13; Method of Shipment: Check the appropriate box. For express deliveries, enter the company. Air Mail, Air Freight, Auto?
I WOULD PROBABLY TRY FED-EX FIRST BECAUSE THEY CAN DO NEXT DAY DELIVERY FROM HERE IF A PICKUP IS SCHEDULED. OTHERWISE, I WOULD USE UPS AND SCHEDULE SHIPPING WITH ANOTHER OUT OF TOWN TRIP.
Block 15: State the methods that will be used to prevent plant pest escape. If you stated that an organism is NOT established in the United States (see Box F), provide a detailed explanation on how this organism will be contained. I know they only travel up to a foot in a lifetime, but I was not sure if that is the answer they are wanting.
THE ORGANISM IS ESTABLISHED IN THE STATES. IT CAN ONLY SURVIVE ON LIVING FIELD BINDWEED. EVEN WHEN THE STEMS ARE DEAD, THE MITES MIGRATE ONTO TH E ROOT SYSTEM OF TH E HOST PLANT. THEY WILL SPREAD AND THAT IS GOOD FROM A BIOCONTROL STANDPOINT; BUT, THEY ALSO WILL STARVE OUT IF THE BINDWEED ISN'T THERE FOR THEM. AND THAT HAPPENS WHEN BINDWEED STANDS BECOME DEPLETED. CONSEQUENTLY, I RECOMMEND ESTABLISHING AN INSECTARY AND ALWAYS LOOKING FOR ANOTHER INSECTARY SITE.
The best time to attempt a release will probably be next spring at this point. The bindweed needs to be actively growing at both locations and the source should have high populations.
So, we'll plan on sending some infested bindweed your way next May or June because I suspect your growing season is about to end due to frost.
Mr. Leonard Lauriault, Certified Forage and Grassland Professional
College Professor - Superintendent and Forage Crop Management Scientist
New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences: http://aces.nmsu.edu/
Plant and Environmental Sciences Department: http://aces.nmsu.edu/pes
Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari: http://tucumcarisc.nmsu.edu/
6502 Quay Rd AM.5
Tucumcari, NM 88401
Phone: 575-461-1620 x 103
Perseverance is the pathway to perfection (Philippians 3:12-16).
Sent: Wednesday, September 04, 2013 9:20 AM
Subject: Re: Bindweed mites
S: I am forwarding your request to our bindweed specialist. You will be hearing from him shortly. Best xxxxx
Sent from my iPhone
On 03/09/2013, at 10:16 PM, wrote:
> I am an Illinois Master Gardener looking for answers for a client of our local Extension. She wants to try bindweed mites for an infestation in her garden; she is in the western suburbs of Chicago. I have not heard of any program in the Midwest that is distributing or studying these mites. Can you advise me as to whether that is being done, or whether this is a treatment that might work for a suburban garden?
> Thank you for any light you can shed-
Thank you sooo much for your time and attention to my question!
While cleaning out my junk mail recently, I found your reply.
I'll be filling out the USDA permit form and send it in. I'll let you know what I hear from them.
You're very welcome! We'll be interested to hear how this pans out for you, since it's a new treatment for our area. Best of luck, and do stay in touch.