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Bye-bye, bindweed

By Penny Stine

One crop that's really thriving this season is the bindweed.

 

It's in my flowerbeds, in my gardens and totally infesting my wildflower area. I was out in Palisade on Friday afternoon for a Peach Festival story, so I decided to stop by the insectary and buy a bag of bindweed mites.

The insectary raises beneficial bugs for local peach growers, and also raises bugs that do damage on invasive plant species, like tamarisk and bindweed. The bindweed mites are microscopic and live year-round. They go underground in the winter and gnaw on bindweed roots. Because they're microscopic, I didn't actually buy a bag of bindweed mites. I bought a bag of mite-infested bindweed.

According to the info from the insectary, the trick to getting a successful breeding colony of bindweed mites started is not to offer them red wine and non-stop Barry White music.

Instead, you're supposed to attach the bug-infested bindweed to the healthy bindweed in a small area and hope that the bugs migrate from the infected leaves to the tasty, tender and healthy bindweed leaves.

The instructions also say that the mites are most successful in areas that don't receive overhead sprinkling, as that tends to wash the little buggers away. So I spent 45 minutes attaching bug-infested bindweed to healthy bindweed with little twisty ties in areas of my yard and garden that don't get hit with the lawn sprinklers. 

 

I found plenty of places. Also plenty of bindweed. 

 

That was Saturday morning. On Saturday afternoon, it rained for an hour at my house. 

Poor little bindweed mites... I hope they managed to hang on in spite of the downpour.

Although I'm hoping that a few managed to migrate before it rained and are now happily reproducing and procreating, I won't know until and unless I start to see deformed bindweed. 

Who knew gardening would make me interested in the sex lives of microscopic bugs?

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