Leafy spurge, which grows in dense clumps, occupies more than 2.5 million acres in the U.S. It is concentrated most heavily in the northern Great Plains. Stems on the plant can reach three feet or more. Blossoms are yellow.
The first record of leafy spurge's introduction in North America came in Newbury, Mass., in 1827. By 1900, the weed had been carried to the western United States and Canada.
Four species of root-mining flea beetles were brought to the U.S. from Austria, Hungary, Italy, the former Yugoslavia and Canada. Adult flea beetles live about four months and females lay about 250 eggs each.
The noxious weed, leafy spurge, shows signs of stress from beetles compared to a healthy plant on the right. Leafy spurge grows in dense clumps with yellow crown flowers. Left unchecked, the plant effectively chokes out native grasses. (Dispatch Photos by Renee Richardson)
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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