JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri conservation officials are battling a weed that can force out other plants used as food for livestock and wildlife.
Spotted knapweed was reported in Missouri in 1933 and is established in about 40 percent of the state.
Now, officials are trying a technique in southern Missouri that involves insects, such as a beetle that attacks the roots and eats seeds. The strategy has been used elsewhere, and there are no reports of the insects attacking other plants.
Spotted knapweed looks similar to wild lettuce with pink flowers that look like thistles. The weed produces chemicals making it harder for other plants to grow and is found especially along major roads. Each plant can produce more than 1,000 seeds.