Beetles vs. Invasive Plants


August 1, 2012

Purple loosestrife, an invasive plant that chokes out native vegetation in western Wisconsin wetlands, might have met its match in a bout with the loosestrife beetle. The pretty but aggressive flowers have been choking the life out of native vegetation and dramatically reducing plant diversity, which will eventually affect the area’s native wildlife.

During the last eight years the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in Baldwin, has been using the beetles to control the purple loosestrife with surprising success. In the spring, mating beetles are placed on netted loosestrife plants inside a DNR facility. By mid-July, the beetle larvae and new beetles emerge and begin to devour the captive plants. When the transformation from larvae to beetle peaks, the DNR has only a few hours to transplant the beetles on loosestrife plants in select areas of the affected region.

According to Mike Soergel, wildlife manager at the Baldwin DNR, the beetles only destroy the loosestrife invader without bothering other plants, wildlife or humans. Once the beetles have been placed in a location, they remain there to battle loosestrife for years to come.

Source: New Richmond News,

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