The Ecological Area-wide Management Leafy Spurge, or TEAM Leafy Spurge, began collecting and redistributing flea beetles (Aphthona spp.) to research/demonstration sites and landowners throughout the Little Missouri River drainage basin to control leafy spurge in 1998. A study to evaluate the change over time of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) phytosociological characteristics following release of flea beetles was initiated in 2002 on leafy spurge–infested pasture and rangeland in the Little Missouri River drainage of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. A total of 292 flea beetle release sites were analyzed in June and July 2002 and 2003 for leafy spurge stem density, foliar cover, flea beetle density, and vegetation composition. Leafy spurge stem density suppression was evident at 91% of the study sites. On two-thirds of the study sites stem density was reduced from greater than 100 stems·m−1 to less than 25 stems·m−1. Leafy spurge foliar cover was less than 5% on approximately two-thirds of the flea beetle release sites and less than 25% on over 90% of the release sites. Area of observed leafy spurge suppression ranged from 0 m2 to 30000 m2. Approximately 40% of the release sites had leafy spurge suppression ranging from 1000 m2 to 5000 m2, and 14% of the release sites had greater than 10000 m2 of leafy spurge control. Plant community composition following leafy spurge suppression was characteristic of native plant communities that had not been burned or grazed. Flea beetles effectively reduced leafy spurge stem density and cover in 4–5 yr across a variety of locations and corresponding environmental conditions, both within the Little Missouri River drainage and in selected nearby locations.
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Vol. 61 • No. 4