USRWA, in partnership with Mt. Horeb High School, has begun a biological control project using beetles to help manage the invasive Purple Loosestrife plant from the Lake Belle View area in Belleville. With the help of USRWA volunteer Bill Keen, we transplanted eight Purple Loosestrife plants from Lake Belle View and put them each into separate pots. After returning to Bill’s house, we tied a tube net around each pot securely and tied the other end of the net closed. This will keep unwanted insects off the plants as they grow to full foliage. After inserting the pots into kiddie pools filled with water, we tied the closed end of the nets high above the plants to give them room to grow.
Once these plants grow to full foliage, they will be ready for beetles to make the plants their temporary home. We are partnering with a biology class at Mt. Horeb High School who will raise the beetles for approximately a month, which will allow the beetles to reproduce about 10 fold. At that time the beetles will be ready to be released on Purple Loosestrife plants around Lake Belle View where they will hopefully stifle the growth and spread of the invasive plant.
This biological control approach has proven to be effective in Wisconsin with beetles consuming Purple Loosestrife almost exclusively instead of other native plants. Although this approach alone will not eliminate Purple Loosestrife, it will help to control the spread of the invasive to other areas. Doing this along with more traditional control methods like digging or herbicide use.
Find out more about this biological control method here: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/invasives/loosestrife.html