ESSLA Board Member and Chair of the Committee on Terrestrials and Adopt-A-Highway, Elli Muller, will be working with Warren County Soil and Water and Essex County Soil and Water collecting Purple Loosestrife beetles. She is putting out the call for volunteers to help collect the bugs and place onto the invasive plants during the last week of May and first week of June. If you can help, please contact Elli for more details and exact dates. This is a great opportunity to get youngsters outside and learning about their environment. If you are aware of any sightings of Purple Loosestrife around the lake and river, it’s helpful to have that reported as well. ellibmuller
Purple Loosestrife was introduced into the US over 150 years ago. This pretty plant quickly forms dense monocultures that change the ecology of the native systems, specifically wetlands. This invasive alters natural systems enough to drive commonly seen waterfowl away and can dry up wetlands and shallow ponds. In order to combat this pest, for over 25 years, Purple Loosestrife Beetles (Galerucella sp.) that feed on this invasive, have been utilized across the country. In 2015 the Purple Loosestrife Management Program, funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program, was initiated and has been a great success working with numerous volunteers, schools and organizations. The program consisted of collecting Purple Loosestrife root wads in early spring, planting the root wads in miniature wetlands made out of child swimming pools, collecting the beetles that feed on Loosestrife, rearing the beetles in the hatcheries to increase beetle populations, and releasing the beetles into Loosestrife infested wetlands and stream corridors of the Lake Champlain Basin. The Glens Falls 8th grade Environmental class reared beetles and took care of the hatcheries, making sure the plants had water and the beetles had plenty of Loosestrife stalks to feed on. A total of 29 Loosestrife plants were inoculated with 500 beetles and approximately 5,800 beetles were reared and released into two infested wetlands of the Halfway Brook Watershed in Queensbury. Prior to releasing the beetles, the selected infested wetlands near Halfway Brook were digitally mapped to document the progress the beetles will have on removing this invasive species. Year two of the program will continue into 2016 where volunteers will help to conserve our wetlands in the Lake Champlain Basin.