City of Regina works to control leafy spurge weed

Leafy spurge is categorized as a noxious weed, native to central and southern Europe. The City of Regina hopes to keep the weed under control over the next few years. (Andrew Benson/CTV News)

The City of Regina is bringing in reinforcements to help control the spread of leafy spurge.

On Tuesday, the city released 10,000 spurge beetles, a type of flea beetle, to help control the weed.

"The beetles strictly feed on leafy spurge," said Ryan Johnston, the supervisor for the Pest Control Department with the City of Regina. "They won't affect anything else in the environment"

Leafy spurge is an invasive weed that can severely damage natural ecosystems and agriculture. It can be identified by its yellow-green flowers, and its production of a milky latex in its leaves and stem.

“It will irritate the skin, and livestock don’t care for it,” said Johnston. “So there is not a lot you can do. If you do try to pull it, wear gloves”

The spurge beetles are meant to keep the invasive species under control, rather than eradicating the plant.

“The beetle will lay the eggs on the small root system, destroying that root system,” said Johnston. “ As the larvae grow it will feed on the larger root system making the plant unable to gather nutrients, make it susceptible to disease, and slowly die back.”

Johnston said the process could take two to three years to see significant reduction of the weed.