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To form an alliance of concerned citizens, landowners, and public and private organizations to protect and improve the water quality and natural habitats in the Ulao Creek Watershed.
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Ulao Creek Partnership Experiments With Leaf Eating Beetles

On July 16th, 1999 Partnership members Mike Grisar and Fred Rompelman released up to 15,000 leaf eating, Galerucella calmariensis, beetles in Ulao Creek to help control infestations of Purple Loosestrife.  Past results of the beetles’ work has been very encouraging.  These beetles have done extensive damage exclusively to purple loosestrife.

Fred and Garrett Rompelman raised the beetles in the family’s yard on behalf of the Ulao Creek Partnership.  The Partnership is hoping the beetles will help to control Purple Loosestrife and curb its spread.  The beetles eat the loosestrife leaves and damage the flowers resulting in less seed production.  Less seeds is an important step in controlling loosestrife, since each flower stalk can produce 100,000 seeds!

Purple Loosestrife is a perennial herb native to Europe that has become established in many North American wetlands.  It can be identified by its large purple flowering spike, which blooms from mid-July through mid-September. 

North American loosestrife populations are invasive, and once established, can quickly form dense stands that displace native plant species.   One reason that Purple Loosestrife out-competes North American flora may be that it has no natural enemies.

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved Galerucella calmariensis, along with three other insects native to Europe, for release in the United States.  These insects feed exclusively on Purple Loosestrife.  Although biological control will not eradicate purple loosestrife entirely, preliminary results suggest that these insects may reduce purple loosestrife infestations by as much as 90%.

At the time of insect release, site characteristics including habitat and soil type, size of infestation and water levels are recorded. Follow-up visits to the site occur later in that season, and in subsequent years, so that survival and establishment of the beetles can be assessed and their impact on the plant population evaluated.

WDNR Photo     UWEX Link

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