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GLIN==> News Release: Beetles Take a Bite out of Purple Loosestrife



Title: News Release: Beetles Take a Bite out of Purple Looses
NEWS RELEASE

DATE: May 30, 2003

CONTACT:
Joyce Daniels, (734) 647-0766, joydan@umich.edu
Douglas Landis, (517) 353-1829, landisd@msu.edu
Michael Klepinger, (517) 353-5508, klep@msu.edu

www.miseagrant.umich.edu
Photos available at www.miseagrant.umich.edu/pp/photos.html

BEETLES TAKE A BITE OUT OF PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE;
NATIVE PLANTS RECOVER IN SOME MICHIGAN WETLANDS

The colorful but ecologically invasive purple loosestrife plant has lost its dominance in some Michigan wetlands, according to research funded in part by Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University. This aquatic nuisance species, known for its showy spikes of pinkish-purple flowers, blooms from early July until mid August in the lower part of the Great Lakes basin.

In an article published in the online version of the journal Biological Control, researchers led by entomologist Doug Landis of Michigan State University report that Galerucella beetles, one of the plant's natural enemies, have established large populations in three mid Michigan locations and caused 100 percent defoliation of purple loosestrife. The beetles were originally released there by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in 1994. One of the most dramatic transformations has occurred at Crow Island State Game Area between Saginaw and Bay City.

"At one time, the area had hundreds of acres of marshland with very heavy infestations of purple loosestrife," says Landis. "Right now it's hard to find flowering loosestrife within several miles of the release sites." Landis says the results show that biological control is working in Michigan. He is also very encouraged that many varieties of native plants are making a comeback.

"We now have the first clear evidence that the number of plant species increases when purple loosestrife is reduced," says Landis. "It's a very slow transition from a plant community dominated by loosestrife to one that is much more diverse, with as many as 15 other plants in a given square meter."

>From 1995 to 2000, the beetles reduced purple loosestrife stem height by 73 to 85 percent, according to researchers. Stunted plants are an early sign that the beetles are beginning to have an impact. Defoliation follows.

STUDENTS, TEACHERS PLAY IMPORTANT ROLE IN CONTROLLING PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE
Students, teachers, naturalists and volunteers throughout Michigan can take credit for releasing Galerucella beetles in more than 100 sites in 2002 as part of the Purple Loosestrife Project. (See http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/pp) Since the innovative biological control program began in 1997, thousands of educators and students have participated in the project.

"It's a unique hands-on opportunity that allows participants to learn about Michigan's natural resources while helping to restore wetland biodiversity," says Michigan Sea Grant Specialist Mike Klepinger who coordinates the project with Landis.

Participants obtain a small number of beetles from Cooperative Biological Control centers located around the state or from the U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Niles, Mich., and release them in stands of loosestrife.

TO IDENTIFY PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE AND OTHER AQUATIC NUISANCE SPECIES
Not sure what purple loosestrife looks like? Wallet-size identification cards make it easy to identify purple loosestrife when it blooms in mid July. The cards include a color photo, a brief history of the plant, a description of why it's a problem in Michigan, and tips on how to help control its spread.

To order the purple loosestrife i.d. card, as well as cards for six other aquatic nuisance species, contact Michigan Sea Grant at (734) 764-1118, by email at msgpubs@umich.edu or on the web at www.miseagrant.umich.edu/pubs/IDcards.html

Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University in Great Lakes research, education and outreach. It is supported by the NOAA/National Sea Grant College Program.

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