Montana Outdoors

July 15, 2017

A weed and its nemesis.

Filed under: Montana — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 3:05 pm

Spotted Knapweed

Spotted knapweed ~ Centaurea stoebe

While its blossom might look pretty, this plant is one of the worst of the invasive plants that has long infested this area. It develops into huge masses and is found nearly everywhere, including the forests where it has been introduced from seeds carried by logging equipment and in some cases from seed in hay brought in by horse packers and riders.

It has a large tap root that sucks up available water faster than the root systems of its neighbors and it releases a toxin from its roots that stunts the growth of nearby plants of other species. Once started in an area, knapweed is very difficult to eradicate. Mowing or cutting only helps it spread faster. Spraying is expensive and introduces all of the negative impact involved with toxic chemicals. Often sheep are used to control it with some degree of success. Knapweed does however have a nemesis: the Knapweed Root Weevil.

Knapweed Root weevil

Knapweed Root weevil ~ Cyphocleonus achates

This half-inch long weevil is a specialist that feeds exclusively on spotted knapweed and does not attack any of the native flora. The female lays her eggs on the top of the knapweed’s root crown. After the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow into the root. This larval feeding destroys knapweed’s vascular root tissue and prevents the plant from transporting water and nutrients. Roots become swollen and deformed as a result of this larval feeding and the plants eventually die.

The hillside on the east side of my driveway is quite steep and exists in its historical natural condition, but somehow became severely infested with spotted knapweed. In August of 2010 we learned of a field seminar conducted by an extension agent from MSU on biological control of knapweed by using these weevils and I attended. We met in one of the pastures of a very large ranch whose owner supported the program and proceeded to collect some weevils. Upon returning home with several hundred of them I distributed them according to the instructions and promptly forgot about the whole thing. One day a couple of years later I was walking down the drive and suddenly noticed that there wasn’t a single knapweed plant around. The weevils had done a remarkable job! None have returned since.

Yesterday I asked the new extension agent about the program because a friend has a huge problem with knapweed and found that they may possibly conduct that seminar again either this summer or next. I hope they do because I saw an ad just today for a weed control business that is selling the weevils for $1.40 each.

June 29, 2017

From the Black Mountain ATV trail 763:

Filed under: Montana — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:42 pm

Today a friend and I rode the Black Mountain ATV trail 763 in the Kootenai National Forest of western Montana that climbs a very steep ridge above the east slope of the Trout Creek drainage. It was a very tough ride (and my first ATV trail ride) and the trail was not ridable as far as we had hoped it would be, but still there were some nice views and I learned a whole lot about riding an ATV in rough country.

Black Mountain trail 763

Black Mountain trail 763

The mountains at the horizon are the Bitterroots along the Montana/Idaho border.

Black Mountain trail 763

The body of water is the Noxon Rapids Dam on the Clark Fork River

Black Mountain trail 763

Black Mountain trail 763

June 13, 2017

Turned back by snow again

Yesterday I set out on a hike up to Revett Lake but found a good amount of snow within a mile above the trail head, and because I am quite familiar with that trail I knew that there would be deep snow banks on the higher part of the trail also and so I went no further. I’ll give it a couple more weeks. Here are a few photos of the lower part of the trail: it’s a very pretty trail and a beautiful lake.

Revett Lake Trail

Revett Lake Trail

Revett Lake Trail

Revett Lake Trail

Revett Lake Trail

Revett Lake Trail

Revett Lake Trail

The altitude is high enough that there are very few flowers blooming, but this little one is growing right in a small spring that issues from the hillside. I have probably seen the species before, but for some reason have never identified it, even though it really is a pretty little thing.

Small-leaved Montia

Small-leaved Montia ~ Montia parvifolia

May 15, 2016

The reason for my absence

DSC_1868

There is a new love in my life. She arrived as a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift to our family and I was finally able to make the trip to meet her. Fortunately she inherited her good looks from her mother and father: she looks very much like her mother did when she was a baby. I won’t try to describe my feelings for her and her new family because this is a blog post and not a book.

Now I will re-enter the blog world again and slowly start trying to catch up with all I have missed in my absence. I expect that will be a little like entering a freeway into California traffic.

May 3, 2016

Away from the computer

Filed under: Montana — Tags: , , — montucky @ 6:27 pm

Munson Creek

For about the next two weeks I will be away from the computer. I will miss reading everyone’s blogs, but clearly not miss keeping up with the “news”.

October 28, 2015

Moonset

Filed under: Montana — Tags: — montucky @ 8:04 pm

Moonset

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.