September 2, 2014
MADISON - Purple loosestrife is in full bloom across Wisconsin and state invasive species officials are asking the public to help control these non-native plants. Citizen help is crucial for preventing and controlling most invaders.
"Purple loosestrife is easiest to find when it's flowering," says Brock Woods, who coordinates Wisconsin's efforts to control this invader. "This exotic perennial has bright, pink-purple spikes and the ability to overrun thousands of acres of wetlands. Now is a crucial time to look for it, report it and take action to prevent its spread."
Henrietta Lake field station before and after biocontrol beetles were introduced to control purple loosestrife plants.
DNR Photo by Brock Woods
For more than 10 years, special beetles have been released to feed on purple loosestrife and control its spread. Monitoring of these natural insect enemies has confirmed that they only live on this plant and successfully decrease its size and seed output.
This process proves an effective and environmentally sound control of the plant and although it does not completely eliminate the invasive, citizens can combine other traditional methods of removal to further prevent plant size and spread, including digging, cutting and using herbicides. They may also start new local biocontrol beetle populations.
According to Woods, beetles are reducing purple loosestrife stands in many areas, but are still missing or too few in other stands. Most beetles have been raised and released on local loosestrife by citizens participating in the Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin-Extension Biocontrol Program. Free equipment and starter beetles are available through the DNR. For more information search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "purple loosestrife" or "purple loosestrife biocontrol."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brock Woods, Purple Loosestrife and Wetland Invasive Plant Program Coordinator, 608-266-2554, firstname.lastname@example.org