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GLIN==> Biological Control of Purple Loosestrife

Posted on behalf of Irene Miles <miles@uiuc.edu>

Biological Control of Purple Loosestrife
April 11, 2003

Sources:     Natalie Carroll (765)494-8433; Pat Charlebois (847)872-0140

Control of Purple Loosestrife Now a National 4-H Project

In the near future, purple loosestrife, an attractive but invasive wetland
plant, may have nowhere to run. A biological control program to introduce
the natural enemy of purple loosestrife, the Galerucella beetle, into local
wetlands, has been accepted into the National 4-H Collection of youth
development curricula. The "Biological Control of Purple Loosestrife" will
be used by 4-H volunteers across the United States.

"This program provides 4-H field volunteers the opportunity to hatch
thousands of these plant-eating beetles, to release them into nearby wetland
areas where purple loosestrife is a problem, and to monitor the success of
their efforts," said Natalie Carroll, Purdue University associate professor
in 4-H and in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

"Through this project, the youth are learning a great deal about
environmental issues and developing relationships with other organizations,
such as local watershed groups," said Carroll. "The 4-H volunteers see their
involvement in this project as providing a community service and doing
something good for the environment."

Purple loosestrife was brought to this country from Europe as a horticulture
plant and as seeds in ships' ballast, and it has since escaped to wetlands
across the United States and Canada where it has no natural predators. "It
forces out native vegetation, and does not provide a food or a nesting
source for native wildlife, said Pat Charlebois, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
biological resources specialist.  "Invasive aquatic species such as purple
loosestrife reduce biodiversity and can also change water chemistry and

The 4-H project to beat back purple loosestrife was developed by Carroll and
Purdue University 4-H in partnership with the Illinois Natural History
Survey, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Michigan Sea Grant, and Minnesota Sea
Grant. It has been implemented in several Great Lakes states, but now will
be available to 4-H programs nationwide.

The youth who take part in this program commit to two years of
activity-based training and field work. They learn about wetlands, invasive
species, biological control and monitoring. "At the beginning of their
involvement, the volunteers measure the diversity in a nearby wetland. After
the release of the beetles they go back and assess whether there are any
changes," explained Carroll.

"The 4-H program has been instrumental in involving youth in efforts to
introduce the Galerucella beetle into degraded wetlands," said Charlebois.
"These volunteers can provide a critical role in the control purple

If you would like more information about the purple loosestrife 4-H program,
contact Natalie Carroll at (765) 494-8344. To access the "Biological Control
of Purple Loosestrife" curriculum, go to www.sgnis.org on the Web or call


The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program is one of 30 National Sea
Grant College Programs. Created by Congress in 1966, Sea Grant combines
university, government, business and industry expertise to address coastal
and Great Lakes needs.  Funding is provided by the National Oceanic
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U. S. Department of Commerce, the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University at West
Lafayette, Indiana.

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