March 7, 2015

1 - Sticker producing plants are common in New Mexico and management depends on which kind of plant produces the stickers.

Yard and Garden March 7, 2015

Q.

How can I get rid of stickers in our yard? Do they sell any beetles that can eat them?

-Mary J.

via NMSU University-Wide Extension

A.

There are several plants that produce "stickers". The most common of these plants are goathead or puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris) and longspine sandbur (Cenchrus longispinus). Management of the problem depends on which sticker producing plants are growing in your lawn.

If your stickers are from goathead plants, also known as puncture vine, there are seed and stem weevils that may be purchased to feed on the seed and plants producing goathead stickers. This may not eliminate the stickers completely, but can help reduce the number of stickers. As long as the plants producing the stickers are present, the weevils may remain each year to feed on the puncture vine seeds and plants. However, over time as the weevils are successful and reduce the number of puncture vine plants, the weevils may die off from lack of food. Since the seeds of this plant may remain dormant in the soil for several years, puncture vines may reappear after the weevils are not there to keep them in control. Because of this you may need to purchase more weevils to resume the fight, or just pull the plants as you see them starting to grow. There may be some established populations of weevils surviving on native stands of puncture vine plants in your area and you may not need to purchase the weevils. However, since you have described a problem, you may need to purchase some puncture vine/goathead seed weevils from an insectary. You can find several such insectaries online by searching for "weevils puncture vine" or "weevils goathead" using your preferred internet search engine.

The information above is relevant for goathead/puncture vine stickers. Sandbur stickers are not subject to control by the seed weevils. In the case of sandbur sticker infestations manual removal, cover crops, health lawn cover to prevent weed seed germination, flaming / burning, and herbicides are the recommended methods of control. These techniques are also useful in managing puncture vine / goathead stickers and other sticker producing plants.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.

Links:

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook page.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!