Natural Areas

Natural areas include forests, rangeland and deserts. Here are some of the IPM projects, innovations and research benefitting the vast natural areas in the West. 

Managing Correctional Facility Mosquitoes Now, Acquiring Skills for Later

There have always been mosquitoes in the wetlands northwest of Salt Lake City, Utah, but few human until the opening of the Utah State Correctional Facility brought more than 4,000 new warm bodies to the area for the mosquitoes to feed on. Now, with Western IPM Center support, efforts are under way to control the mosquitoes and train inmates for jobs in vector control.

Understanding Hawaii's Ungulate Issues

Hooved mammals – ungulates in scientific parlance – aren’t native to the archipelago but have been brought to the islands over the past centuries. Now, population explosions of wild pigs, feral sheep and goats, big-horned mouflon sheep and axis and black-tailed deer are altering ecosystems, affecting fisheries, imperiling agriculture and causing economic harm. New research aims to document how much damage those non-native ungulates are doing – the first step in understanding what could or should be done about it.

Chasing Knotweed on One River: 20 Years of Lessons Learned

Forks, Washington’s sits nestled in North America’s only temperate rainforest. Nearby rivers, fed by melting glaciers high in the Olympic mountains, are home to five species of wild salmon and hundreds of other species of native wildlife. But, like too many other landscapes in too many other places, Forks is threatened by non-native, invasive plants that can fundamentally alter the ecosystem at the expense of the region’s native plants and animals.

A Humble Hedgerow Serves Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

In an expansive field of organically grown blueberries at Humbug Farms in Independence, Oregon, the most interesting rows aren’t blueberries at all. Instead, they are carefully chosen rows of (mostly) native flowering shrubs that provide food for wild bees and habitat for beneficial insects. Hurray for the humble hedgerow.

Hoping a Tiny Wasp Has a Huge Impact in Controlling Spotted Wing Drosophila

As South Korean imports go, Ganaspis brasiliensis will never have the popular cachet of pop sensations BTS or TV dramas like Squid Game, but for small fruit growers the tiny wasp might become the biggest superstar of all. That’s because Ganaspis brasiliensis is a parasitic wasp that lays eggs into the larvae of the spotted-wing drosophila fruit fly, an invasive insect that’s been plaguing growers of small fruit and berries since it was accidentally introduced into the mainland United States in 2008.

Research Tests if Warm-Weather Weevils Can Boost Biocontrol of Puncturevine

Call it puncturevine, goatheads, devil’s thorn or whatever creative collection of expletives you mutter after sitting, kneeling or stepping barefoot onto it, Tribulus terrestris is one unpleasant plant. But with funding from the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, a researcher in New Mexico is measuring the cold-hardiness of weevils from different climactic zones to see if biocontrol efforts in cool northern climes could be boosted by importing warm-weather weevils from southern deserts.

Targeted Grazing Can Reduce Communities' Vulnerabilty to Wildfire

With the West in a state of permanent drought and under constant threat of wildfires, it’s more important than ever for land managers to control undesirable vegetation. For fire-prone communities scattered throughout the West’s tinder-dry hills and woods, it can be a matter of life and death. One tool that can help manage vegetation is grazing.

Managing Invasive Species in Arches National Park Means Using IPM

Most people driving through Arches National Park in southeast Utah look up, marveling at the unique rock formations that give the park its name. Kelli Quinn looks down. 

Quinn is a National Park Service team lead for the vegetation and ecological restoration program at Arches and three nearby national parks and monuments and it’s her job to keep the native, natural landscape as native and natural as possible.  She and her colleagues use integrated pest management techniques to do that.

VIDEO: Managing Invasive Species in Arches National Park

National Park Service crews use classic integrated pest management processes to manage unwanted invasive species in Utah's Arches National Park and other nearby national parks and monuments

VIDEO: Moab Mosquito Outreach and Citizen Science Project

Moab, Utah is known as one the nation’s premier outdoor destinations, drawing millions of visitors each year to bike on its famed slickrock trails, hike through its painted canyons or 4x4 across its rugged desert. What Moab is not known for – and folks want to keep it that way – is mosquitoes. 

Moab Mosquito Project Engages Residents and Visitors

Moab, Utah is known as one the nation’s premier outdoor destinations, drawing millions of visitors each year to bike on its famed slickrock trails, hike through its painted canyons or 4x4 across its rugged desert.

What Moab is not known for – and the community wants to keep it that way – is mosquitoes. 

Looking for Answers as Kochia Rolls Across the West

Kochia is a tumbling weed plaguing growers and ranchers from Central Canada to West Texas.

“It’s salt tolerant, heat tolerant, cold tolerant,” said Kent Davis, a crop consultant with Crop Quest in Colorado. “I want to kill the damn stuff, there’s no question about it, but you have to admire it at the same time.”

IPM in Yellowstone

The thing that makes integrated pest management so powerful is that it can be adapted to manage pests in any environment – even an environment as unique as Yellowstone National Park and a pest as big as a 900-pound bull elk.

Protecting the Trees that Protect Guam

On the island of Guam, species as different as cucumbers, sea turtles and bananas are all protected in one way or another by ironwood trees, a type of evergreen native to Australia. The problem is many of those trees are dying.

VIDEO: Studying the Ecological Impacts of Firebreaks

During wildfires, crew use bulldozers to cut firebreaks to remove vegetation and prevent the fire from spreading. It's effective firefighting, but those bulldozer lines can have lasting impacts on the recovery of vegetation afterward. This video examines new research that is measuring those impacts and developing mitigations.

The Impact of Firebreaks in Southern California Sage Lands

During wildfires, crew use bulldozers to cut firebreaks to remove vegetation and prevent the fire from spreading. It's effective firefighting, but those bulldozer lines can have lasting impacts on the recovery of vegetation afterward. New research is measuring those impacts and developing mitigations.

Dropping the Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine Could Impact the West

The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has proposed lifting the domestic quarantine designed to slow the spread of emerald ash borer, an action that could speed the destructive insect’s introduction into Western states that have so far kept it at bay.

Preparing for the Invasion: Emerald Ash Borer in Colorado

As part of its urban planning, the city of Denver recently asked residents what they wanted most in a revitalized downtown and they chose trees. It’s a shame so many of them are about to die.

IPM in Action: Boulder City and County Battle Invasive Weeds

The city and county of Boulder, Colorado illustrate IPM perfectly. They each have weeds to manage on public land, but because their goals, weeds, acreage and approaches differ, their management differs.

VIDEO: Helping Barn Owls Help Growers

Barn owls are rodent-killing machines - natural predators of gophers and voles and other rodent pests of agriculture. This video looks at new research helping growers use both the owls and chemicals, in concert and safely.

Feral Swine Wreak Havoc

As pests go, wild pigs are huge – and hugely effective.

Helping Barn Owls Help Farmers

Barn owls are big, beautiful biocontrol.

“Barn owls are rodent-killing machines,” said Sara Kross, an assistant professor in environmental studies at Sacramento State University. “They are natural predators of gophers and voles which can be really horrible pests for agriculture.”

Developing IPM Resources for Non-Ag Audiences

A new effort in Oregon aims to provide just the right amount of pest and pest-management information to homeowners, landscapers and public agencies using a responsive website.

Learning to Manage – and Live with – Coyotes in Southern California

Forrest Gump believed life was like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get inside. It’s much the same for graduate student Danielle Martinez, except she isn’t reaching for tasty chocolates. She’s digging into coyote stomachs as part of a larger research effort studying urban wildlife in Southern California.

VIDEO: Using IPM to Protect a Long-Vanished Community

In the Arizona desert, the National Park Service and the University of Arizona teamed up to develop an integrated pest management program to protect sensitive archaeological sites from digging pests. IPM is being used to protect a community that vanished 1,000 years ago.

IPM Helps Makes Golf Courses Green

There was a time when golf courses were expected to look perfect – lush green flawless fairways, spotless smooth putting greens, shimmering water hazards and no weeds in sight. Some players still expect unnatural perfection and judge courses by their looks. But a growing number – especially younger players – judge courses by their environmental practices as well, an area where most courses have made dramatic improvements over the past 10 to 20 years. Integrated pest management is integral to those improvements.

Grassland Restoration Effects on Native Bees and Spiders

Throughout the West, many native grasslands have been degraded – overgrazed, overtilled, burned or overrun by invasive weeds like Medusahead or cheatgrass. While many restoration efforts only look at plant communities or endangered species, this research looked at native spider and bee communities. 

Rooting for the Underdogs of the Pollination World

As pollinating insects, bees get all the credit – but they don’t do all the work. new research is documenting the unsung heroes of the pollinating world.

Protecting a Long-Vanished Community with IPM

The practices and principles of integrated pest management are used across the country to protect communities from pests. And in the Arizona desert, those same principles are being used to protect a community that disappeared 600 years ago.

Nevada in Photos: Fighting Invasives on Land and Lake

Nevada's state flag has the words "Battle Born" above a silver star and crossed sagebrush sprays, celebrating its creation during the American Civil War. Battle born is also a pretty good description of the efforts of many people working for state, federal and local agencies to keep invasive weeds in check in Nevada's challenging landscapes. Here's a look.

Decoding Chemical Communications to Control Insects

University of California, Riverside chemical ecologist Jocelyn Millar identifies the chemical signals insects use to communicate, then synthesizes versions of them to help monitor, trap or disrupt their activities. Lygus bug is just one of dozens of species Millar and his team are working on. The common thread is that they all communicate chemically, and decoding those chemical signals can create new ways to control those species where they are pests.

Utah in Photos: Managing Pests in a Unique State

Utah is one of the most urbanized states in the nation, with 90 percent of the population living on just 1.1 percent of the land. It’s also the second driest state, averaging less than 10 inches of rainfall a year, and has alkaline soils with low organic matter. It’s a challenging environment to farm in. Keeping invasive pests out of Utah - and minimizing the damage they cause once they arrive - is a major focus.

Montana in Photos: Defending the Last Best Place

The state that calls itself "The Last Best Place" has a lot to protect from pests: vast fields of wheat and barley driving its agriculture sector, miles of mountains, forests and rangeland forming an outdoor paradise, and clear rivers and lakes at the upper end of the North American watershed. Here's a look.

New Mexico in Photos: Loving the Land of Enchantment

In New Mexico, the chile pepper is king. Hay is grown on 40 times the acreage and pecans rack up nearly 4.5 times the farm sales, but you don’t see either of those crops on the “Welcome to New Mexico” signs as you drive into the state. You see red and green chile peppers.

Chile isn’t a crop, it’s culture. Like Florida citrus and Idaho potatoes, New Mexico’s identity is tied to a crop.

Alaska In Photos: America's Arctic Agriculture

Alaska is huge, diverse, remote and still largely pristine. It's 2.3 times the size of Texas, with a population of just 738,000 people and 175,000 moose.

While small, the state's ag industry is important. Ornamentals, aquaculture, potatoes and cattle are top crops, and home-based and small-scale production help improve food security and diversity. Here's a little of what we saw and learned on a recent visit.

VIDEO: Learning about Insects in Anchorage

Anchorage-area sixth graders learn about forest insect ecology during the 43rd annual Outdoor Week at the Bureau of Land Management's Campbell Creek Science Center.

VIDEO: Controlling Invasive Species on Wyoming's Snake River
The Teton County Weed & Pest District's Snake River Project helps keep invasive weeds from getting established in the Snake River corridor in western Wyoming. Here's a look at one part of that effort.
VIDEO: Battling Bird Cherry in Anchorage
European bird cherry, also known as the May Day tree, is one of the most pervasive invasive species in Anchorage, Alaska. Here's how it got there, and what folks are now doing to get rid of it.
VIDEO: Biocontrol on Montana's National Bison Range

Biocontrol helps the National Bison Range in Montana manage invasive weeds. Here's how they do it - and you can too.

VIDEO: Gold Spotted Oak Borer, or GSOB, in Irvine Regional Park
Weir Canyon in the Irvine Regional Park is the only known infestation of gold spotted oak borer in Orange County - and land managers are working hard to protect the park and keep the destructive beetle from spreading.
VIDEO: Gold Spotted Oak Borer, or GSOB, in Southern California

The gold spotted oak borer is a tiny beetle causing huge damage in Southern California. It infests the region's towering oak species - coast live oak and canyon live oak - and can kill a centuries-old tree in just a year or two. This video follows the beetle from San Diego to Los Angeles counties to see what damage it's doing and what many fear may come next.

Gold Spotted Oak Borer Threatens Oak Woodlands and Ecosystems across Southern California

From San Diego County to Los Angeles County, oak trees are dying rapidly, killed by a tiny beetle called the gold spotted oak borer. In areas where the invasive pest has become established, it’s killing 80 to 90 percent of the mature oaks – a dieback that’s fundamentally changing the landscape and the ecosystem the oaks support.

South American Palm Weevil

The South American palm weevil is a serious palm pest in its native range in Mexico, Central and South America. It is highly likely that the insect has established permanent populations in southern San Diego County in an area that ranges, at least, from San Ysidro to Chula Vista.

Embracing Functional Agricultural Biodiversity to Tap into Nature's Services

Bringing natural diversity to a farm can help boost production and benefit the bottom line. The concept is called functional agricultural biodiversity, and a work group in Oregon is helping Pacific Northwest farmers and conservationists know what plants to incorporate, insects to encourage and habitat to install to maximize their natural benefits.

Hill-Climbing Cows May Bring Big Benefits to Western Rangeland and Ranchers

Conventional wisdom says cows don’t go up steep slopes. They don’t climb hills and don’t travel very far from water. But some cows never got that memo, and researchers are looking into whether naturally hill-climbing cows can provide production and environmental benefits in the rugged West.

IPM in Montana

Montana is known as "The Last Best Place." An outdoor paradise, and home to wheat, barley and pulse crop production, Montana actively promotes integrated pest management to protect its agriculture and natural areas.

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle

In 2015, the Invasive Species Insects Subgroup focused on coconut rhinoceros beetle, an invasive insect spreading across the Pacific. In March of that year, a work group gathered after the Hawaiian Entomological Society meeting to share the latest information and research on the beetle.

IPM in Utah

Utah is one of the most urbanized states in the nation, with 90 percent of the population living on just 1.1 percent of the land. It’s also the second driest state, has alkaline soils and the risk of drought is high every year. These factors drive Utah's cropping systems - and drive the way IPM programs are developed and delivered.

Grazing Guidelines for Noxious Weed Control

Researchers, ranchers, and land managers know that livestock grazing can be a valuable and selective noxious-weed management tool, and this guide summarizes all the effective techniques.

Toolkit for Assessing IPM Outcomes and Impacts

The Western IPM Center’s IPM Adoption and Impacts Assessment Work Group, a collection of natural and social scientists from across the country, created online resources showing IPM researchers how to conduct basic impact assessments.

IPM in New Mexico

Like many states, some of the biggest IPM challenges facing New Mexico are being caused by newly arrived invasive pests, including the Bagrada bug and spotted wing Drosophila. Here's a look at the current state of IPM in New Mexico, and some of the IPM research going on there.

Colorado battling Emerald Ash Borer with coordination and cooperation
In Boulder, Colorado, Assistant Forester Kendra Nash was marking a dead tree for removal, when her spray-painted “X” crossed a D-shaped exit hole characteristic of the insect. The September 2013 discovery was the first in Colorado of the invasive beetle that's killed tens of millions of trees since first being detected in Michigan in 2002. Here's what's happened since.
Early Detection Combats Weed Invaders

Managing invasive weeds is a lot like planning a military defense. It’s easier to defeat a small number of invaders than a large army. It’s easier to respond to a limited incursion than fight a multi-front battle. And having an early warning system can make all the difference. In the fight against invasive weeds in Montana, early detection and rapid response is a key strategy for keeping some of the West’s worst weeds from gaining a foothold in the state.

Montana Develops Weed Seedling Guide for the Northern Great Plains

Rapid and accurate identification of weeds at the seedling stage can save producers and land managers time and money but most weed identification guides only provide information about the mature stage of the plants. Not this one.

New Guide Helps Land Managers Control Medusahead

As an ecosystem-transformer species, medusahead is among the worst weeds. Not only does it compete for resources with more desirable species, but it changes ecosystem function to favor its own survival at the expense of the entire ecosystem.

Citizen Scientists in Alaska Watch for Invasive Species

To expand the number of eyes watching out for exotic and invasive pests, the Alaska IPM Program recruites “Citizen Scientists” to be on the lookout for unusual insects, plants and disease organisms throughout the state.

Death From Above: Encouraging Natural Predators

Native predators like kestrels and barn owls can play a valuable role in controlling pests not only on farms, but also in parks, golf courses and large yards and gardens. While they rarely eliminate a pest problem, they can reduce the need for pesticide use and other pest-control measures.

Team Helps Combat Decline of Guam Ironwood Trees

In 2002, a local farmer noticed several Guam ironwood  trees planted in a single-row windbreak were dying.  By 2005, what became known as Ironwood Tree Decline was  widespread across the island, with some sites seeing more  than half of their ironwoods in distress.  Now researchers are beginning to understand why - and reverse the decline.

Helping Native Bees and Other Pollinators Thrive in New Mexico

Gardeners, growers, land managers, school groundskeepers and others in New Mexico now have a few new ways to help honeybees and native wild bees thrive.

Educating an Urban Public and Land Managers about Invasive Weeds

Having a clear, consistent message and speaking with one voice is helpful when it comes to educating the public about invasive species. Here's how the area around Portland, Oregon did it.

Flowering Rush

Flowering rush is an aquatic plant that escaped from cultivation as an ornamental and has spread to thousands of acres stretching from the Pacific Northwest to Wisconsin. The Flowering Rush Subgroup of the Western IPM Center's Invasive Species Signature Project is looking for an effective biocontrol.

Water Quality Protection

To protect water sources from pollution by pesticides, one of the first Western IPM Center signature projects created training materials for proper pesticide application for agriculture, professional landscapers and homeowners. In a little more than one year, the slides were downloaded 106 times in 20 U.S. states and one Canadian province, and used to train more than 1,400 people.

Pollinator Protection in the Pacific

The need to protect and conserve beneficial insects - especially pollinators - is being increasingly recognized. The Western IPM Center led the Pacific Pollinator Protection Program, a Center signature project, to help Pacific Island growers protect these valuable species.

Tribal Work Group

The Western Region Tribal Work Group brought together representatives of several tribes and federal agencies to combat invasive species on tribal lands.