Biological Release

With written consent from the landowner, the following may be available on a first come first serve basis.  Time restraints and insect availability may also limit this service.

  • Collectible Insects: Landowners who wish to release insects that can be collected within the Jackson Hole Weed Management Area (JHWMA), may qualify for a 100% cost share on insects and a 100% cost share on the labor associated with the release
  • Non-Collectible Insects: Landowners who wish to release insects that must be purchased or collected outside of the JHWMA shall pay 100% of the cost of the insects and will receive a 100% cost share on the labor associated with the release

Biological Control of Invasive Plants
Biological control, or bio control, is the use of living organisms to control weeds or pests.  These living organisms can be insects, fungi, nematodes, or diseases.  Most often insects are the agents used for exotic plant control.  Invasive plants are invasive for many reasons.  They can have structural or chemical defenses which discourage grazing.  They can secrete chemicals from their tissue, known as allelopathy, which can inhibit neighboring plant growth.  They were also introduced to a new continent where evolutionary adaptations from thousands of years of coexistence haven’t taken place.  This means there are often very few native herbivores which feed on the invasive plant leaving them undamaged and more competitive for resources.

The goal of weed bio control is to increase herbivory on these exotic plants releasing the native plant from the exotic plants completive edge.  This is done by releasing bio control agents, usually insects, into weed populations. It is true, these bio control agents themselves are exotic species deliberately introduced to a non-native range.  This can also be said about many non-invasive ornament plants.

Bio control agents are regulated by the USDA, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and must go through a rigorous scientific evaluation prior to approval of their U.S. introduction.  This process takes many years from discovery to release.  Agents who attack native species will not make the cut.  However, agents which prove to be extremely selective and only seek the weed of concern may be considered for bio control release.
Release of non-indigenous organisms doesn’t come without some level of risk. Teton County Weed and Pest District utilizes bio control as part of our integrated management planning.  This means we only consider the use of bio control insects for weed management of widespread weed populations, populations where other management options are not appropriate, or populations in extremely challenging terrain.  The goal of bio control is not eradication, but rather to even the playing field. Bio control can help maintain biodiversity of ecosystems and some level of their historic structure, function, and services by limiting the dominance of invasive plants.