Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Invasion of the Galerucella Beetle: Good-bye Purple Loosestrife

No, that is not the title of a new summer movie.  It is what is happening in one of my flower beds.

When I first planted my flower beds back in the 70s, I bought a plant called 'Morden's Pink' Lythrum.  Little did I know that this plant was a member of a very invasive wetland species, the purple loosestrife.  Hey, it was the official Township flower at the time and grew along all the road sides.

When I came into public office in 1988, one of the first things I did was ask the Township Board to change the official flower to the Trillium grandiflorum.  By then, I had learned that Minnesota had already declared the plant invasive.  It took some convincing, but we got it done.

Several years later, the Township's Parks Department released the Galerucella beetle to destroy the plant.  All of the specimens growing down along the branch of the Rouge River behind my house have long since disappeared.  My one plant has kept on growing, with me removing the flowers before they go to seed and digging out any young plants popping up.

That is, up until this year.  The beetles have arrived and are slowly but surely eating the entire plant.  Fortunately, these beetles are not supposed to destroy anything else.  I hope.

I've watched all of the Emerald Ash trees behind my house die off from ash borer.  I know you have seen signs on the highways telling you not to transport firewood. 

Perhaps someone can come up with something that eats buckthorn.  And only buckthorn.  It would save me a ton of work.

Meanwhile, I will go shopping for another tall plant to put in its place.  Maybe another Joe-Pye weed.

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