U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Logo U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

2006 "Volunteers Working With Invasives"
Grants Report Form

Display Report


Project Title: Incorporation of Biological Controls for Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula), Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans), and Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)
Region: 6
Station: Devils Lake Wetland Management District Complex
Contact Person:
Name and Phone Number
Cami Dixon, 701-662-8611, ext. 334
Project Description:
(Up to 250 words)
In efforts to further incorporate Integrated Pest Management, staff of the Devils Lake Wetland Management District (DLWMD) intensified and expanded the use of biological controls for leafy spurge, musk thistle, and Canada thistle, all listed noxious weeds in North Dakota. First, for leafy spurge, we collected insects at North Dakota Game and Fish Department insectivories and released them on Waterfowl Production Areas in the DLWMD. Musk thistle is the next species intended for the use of biological controls. Up until this point, musk thistle insects have not been intentionally released on refuge lands within the District, and therefore we released insects on the Hamline Waterfowl Production Area in Cavalier County North Dakota and will monitor the results. Finally, biological controls for Canada thistle were initiated on two Waterfowl Production areas in 2005, and in 2006 we added to these insect populations. Pre and post monitoring was conducted in 2005 and 2006, and will be continued in 2007. The plan is to add more insects to these sites in 2007 to increase the opportunities for establishment of the insects.
List of Invasives Species Targeted:Common NameScientific Name
  Leafy Spurge Euphorbia esula
Canada Thistle Cirsium arvense
Musk Thistle Carduus nutans
Project Status: Completed
Project Completion Date
or Estimated Completion Date:


Volunteer Affiliation:
(Check all that apply)
Volunteer Involvement:
Describe the type of work the volunteers performed. (Up to 150 words)
Students from the University of North Dakotas Chapter of the Wildlife Society assisted with the implementation of this project. First, the students monitored sites where insects were released in previous years using a modified belt-transect method, which required the training and associated supervision by seasonal biological staff of the DLWMD. They also assisted with baseline monitoring that was initiated on the Hamline WPA where musk thistle insects were eventually released. The students also assisted with the actual releases of biological controls released for control of the listed targeted species.
Total Number of Volunteers: 2
Total Number of Volunteer Hours: 64
List both new and existing partnerships utilized in this project. (Up to 150 words).
In the past year, we have continued to foster the partnership with students and professors at the University of North Dakota (UND). Historically, students working with us were associated with a particular study for the purpose of graduate degree requirements. However, we are taking strides to provide undergraduate students with experiences related to habitat management, and essentially allowing us to accomplish more in our on-the-ground management efforts. In 2006 we not only recruited 2 student volunteers to assist with this biological control project, but also were able to bring students together for a Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) removal project and a nest structure maintenance project. Overall, we have had around 20 students involved with volunteerism on refuge lands in the past year. Further, we will continue to cooperate with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to collect and disburse leafy spurge biological controls. They have several insectivories that are viable for leafy spurge insect collection, with releases on refuge lands. We continue to make strides each year in establishing insectivories on spurge infested waterfowl production areas.


Project Results:
Give an overview of the results of the project. Include quantifiable measure of success, such as maps produced, efficacy of control measures, number of sites where invasions were detected early and responded to, number of community contacts, etc. (Up to 250 words).
In 2005 and 2006 Canada thistle insects were released on two Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) within the DLWMD. In 2006, 1,200 stem gall flies (Urophora cardui) were released at each site, along with 1,000 stem mining weevils (Hadroplontus litura) per each WPA. Baseline monitoring was conducted in 2005 at each of these sites, and continued into 2006. Although no significant changes have been seen up to this point, it is evident that the gall flies are present on several plants throughout the release sites. Multiple transects were established at each site to monitor the changes in the thistle plants over time. Our plans are to do one more year of releases on each site to ensure that our populations of insects are established. Also in 2006, we initiated the use of musk thistle insects on the Hamline WPA. Approximately 1,500 defoliating beetles (Cassida rubiginosa) and 1,500 rosette feeding weevils (Trichosirocalus horridus) beetles were released. These two species are intended to complement the Rhinocyllus conicus that already occurs in many musk thistle plants in northeastern North Dakota. Baseline data were collected, and transects were established on the site for long-term monitoring. Our intention is to do two more releases on this site in the next two years to fully establish the insect populations. Six Waterfowl Production Areas were sites for spurge beetle releases in 2006 across the District. It is estimated that overall, around 250,000 insects were released. We will continue to add insects to these sites in the future to reduce spurge infestations and establish our own insectivories.
Number of Acres Treated: 167
Number of Acres Inventoried and/or Mapped: 52
Number of Acres Restored: 0


Budget: Account for funds in broad categories such as equipment, volunteer stipends, travel, coordinator salary/contract, etc.

Total Grant Amount:

$ $6,637.20

Breakdown of Expenditures:


Total $ Spent
% of Total Grant
Equipment / Supplies
Biocontrol Agents $4050.00 61%
Volunteer Stipends
Volunteer Coordinator Salary/Contract
Restoration Materials
Other $2587.20 39%
TOTAL $6,637.20 100%

Recommendations: (OPTIONAL)
How useful was this program for meeting refuge invasive species objectives and how can it be improved?
This program fostered creativity in partnership development, especially dealing with an unglamorous side of refuge management (invasive species). It would be beneficial to fund multi-year projects, since meeting refuge invasive species objectives requires several years of treatment to see results. As an example, for our project, we will need to do another release of Canada thistle insects in 2007 if we intend to have the maximum impact on the thistle. At this point, the only way we will be able to fund this is through grant monies.


- Return to Main Menu -