Beetles to help control invasive plants
In an effort to control purple loosestrife, the Waupaca Chain Lake District has planted beetle-infested plants.
After purple loosestrife gets a foothold in a lake, pond or marsh, it chokes off habitat for other plants and forces out wildlife.
More than 40,000 acres in Wisconsin have been affected by the invasive plant.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Galerucella beetles are a safe, effective bio-control of purple loosestrife.
When the beetles eat these plants, the plants are weakened and do not flower.
More than a decade of research by the DNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that these creatures eat only purple loosestrife plants and do no harm other plants.
Sue Eiler spearheaded the beetles project in the Waupaca Chain Lake District.
She worked with Wisconsin Master Naturalist volunteers, who harvested purple loosestrife plants more than a year ago.
Plants were then trucked to a local garden and planted.
In spring, the volunteers potted the plants and gathered approximately 500 beetles along Mirror Lake’s shore, which were sorted by male and female and placed in netted plant enclosures to procreate.
Over 40 hours of volunteer time were invested in potting purple loosestrife plants and gathering mating beetles.
In June, the plants and beetles were loaded onto a floatboat and were distributed to selected areas around the Chain O’ Lakes.