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UW updates: University personnel provides updates at WWPC conference

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

During the annual Wyoming Weed and Pest Council Fall Conference and Business Meeting, held virtually on Nov. 3-4, several individuals from the University of Wyoming (UW) made an appearance to provide updates in regards to Wyoming weeds and pests.

UW research

Dr. Dan Tekiela, assistant professor and UW Extension specialist of invasive plant ecology began the discussion by providing an update on his current work and research.

“What we planned on doing this past year and what we actually did were a little bit different because of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t productive,” he said, noting the university’s travel and small-group research restrictions made research difficult. 

First, Tekiela noted, with the help of Dr. David Coyle of Clemson University, he has been working on a publication titled, “Redefining Success in Invasive Plant Management and the Importance of Realistic Expectations.”

“We used data from research in Teton County and Johnson County for the manuscript to show different examples of invasive plant management success in Wyoming,” he said.

Tekiela also noted he has been hard at work using dalmatian toadflax as a case study on the importance of management tool selection with particular herbicides. 

“I am also still supporting the Wyoming Weed Risk Assessment Initiative, and as of right now, there are over 170 separate submissions of risk assessment, which is a really great starting point for this program,” he said. “Our goal is to eventually have an online resource accessible to the public regarding the riskiness and invasiveness of each species on our list.” 

When it comes to on the ground research, Tekiela informed attendees he has two students conducting field research – one of which is looking at remote sensing technologies for invasive plant management and the other focusing on leafy spurge management in riparian areas.

New pest updates

UW Extension Entomologist Scott Schell was next to address meeting attendees. 

“In addition to many other reasons, we had a very different year with a lot of new things showing up,” Schell said. “First, there was the Asian giant hornet found in Blaine, Wash., near the Canadian border. The U.S. Department of Agriculture was able to radio collar a few of the captured adults and successfully track them to a nest they were then able to eradicate.” 

“We also had Japanese beetles show up in Sheridan County, which is the first report of the beetle in Wyoming,” he added, noting after setting traps in the area the beetle was reported, nearly 264 beetles were found.

“The goal was to see if we could trap them out. The more adults we capture and eliminate from reproducing, the better,” he added. 

Although the Japanese beetle is a concern, Schell noted the finding of beetles in Sheridan County doesn’t mean there is an established population in the area, since it is fairly common for the insect to hatch out in large numbers without overwintering.

Additionally, Schell noted the westward march of the Emerald Ash Borer down the I-80 corridor, which is being watched closely.  

Release of beneficials

Next, Tim Collier, associated professor of ecosystem science and management, informed attendees of several beneficial insects released in Wyoming for bio-control measures. 

“Last year, I submitted a petition for the release of the Russian olive mite, and I recently received positive comments back recommending the release of the mite,” Collier stated. 

He also noted leafy spurge beetles from Montana were released in Platte County, and following research on spotted knapweed and Canadian thistle rust, field bindweed mites were released in Platte and Converse counties. 

Applicator training

When it comes to private and commercial applicator training, Jeff Edwards, pesticide applicator training coordinator at the UW Agriculture Experiment Station, noted those interested have three options for receiving their license – taking the test in person, completing an at home workbook or completing a 50-question exam. 

“We have been working with the Wyoming Weed Management Association to develop the program this year,” Edwards stated. “This year, we will be offering 12 Continuing Education Units for individuals who need them to keep their licenses, which will be available Dec. 15-16.” 

Edwards noted registration information for the course can be found at, and as of right now, there are no plans for a new applicator program.

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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