It all started back in the summer of 2013 when I asked Eliza over at Happy Simply Living for some advice...
Any guesses yet?
She wrote a very well researched and thoughtful post in response to my question, and ever since I've been on the hunt for these...
I know by now the suspense is killing you, so here it is!
Yes! A little bag full of bindweed!!!
Folks, this isn't just your garden variety bindweed (yuk, yuk) this is bindweed that is infested with microscopic mites which, in theory, eat the stuff and keep it "under control".
Let's just say that tracking these little suckers down was not easy. After Eliza mentioned the mites in her post, I went on a hunt and found a place on the Colorado State University Extension website where you could request the mites. So I filled out the form and waited... and waited, and waited, and waited...
After a year had passed with no response, I tried again, but still nothing...
Then last week out of the blue, I got a call from the State Agriculture Department saying that they now had some mites if I was still interested.
I'm so excited!!!
OK, truth is, I'm not expecting miracles. They're supposed to "control" bindweed, not eliminate it. But let's just say that since I shun herbicides, and am a tad bit lazy about dealing with the stuff the old fashioned way, weed management is (ahem) not exactly my strong suit, so there will be no shortage of food for them here at chez kitty!
I have to wait until this evening when it cools off a bit to "release" them, and apparently it takes a while for them to form a "breeding colony" so I'm doubtful that I'll see much difference right off the bat. But hey, I figure it's worth a shot, and I don't really have much to lose. I mean, in theory, they only eat bindweed...
So wish me luck... Anybody out there ever used bindweed mites before?
p.s. Here are some links if anybody want more info on bindweed, or the mites.
p.p.s. So Rachel just pointed out that there are actually two different plants known as bindweed! Who knew? Thanks, Rachel! The kind I'm dealing with is known as "field bindweed" or Convovulus arvensis. I grabbed a sprig and shot a few photos for reference
The other kind (which apparently is what Rachel has) is hedge bindweed or Calystegia sepium. It has bigger leaves and flowers and, in my experience at least, is more spindly with thinner stems. I've had some of this in my garden too, but I didn't know its name, and it was much easier to deal with than the field bindweed. Here are a few photos I snagged from the interwebs:
Everything I've read about the mites says that they are used for the control of field bindweed. I'm not sure if that means that they are ineffective against hedge bindweed, or if it's just that field bindweed is considered an invasive, noxious weed, so there's more interest in using biological agents to control it.
Anyhow, if you're considering the mites, you might want to be sure you've got the field bindweed and/or do some research to see if they work on the other variety too.
And here's some more info on the mites - it looks like they require a fairly dry environment in order to survive.