Oneida County deploys beetles to combat Purple Loosestrife
The date has finally arrived to release the Purple Loosestrife beetles.
The Purple Loosestrife bio-control project began three months ago when the Oneida County Land and Water Conservation Department partnered with the Northwoods Community Secondary School (NCSS) of Rhinelander. The ultimate goal of this project was to rear 1000s of beetles that would then be dispersed around the County to keep this invasive under control.
During the first stage of the project, the Oneida County AIS team brought Jean Hansen, LWCD Conservation Specialist; NCSS students; Wisconsin DNR personnel and Friends of the Jersey Flowage, to a training in Rhinelander to learn about the impact of Purple Loosestrife on the native ecosystem. Students were allowed to dig out some Purple Loosestrife plants that would later be used to rear the beetles. After the invasive was removed, students planted a variety of native vegetation and learned how those plants would benefit the ecosystem.
The second stage brought partners together at NCSS to take Purple Loosestrife plants that had been dug and put them into rearing cages. This messy process required that plant roots be washed to rid them of predators that might be harmful to the beetles, replanted into new soil in pots, and put inside netting designed to keep the beetles in and predators out.
Stage Three put the AIS team on the hunt for the Purple Loosestrife beetles throughout the County. This was no easy task. Despite snakes, muck and mosquitoes, team members were able to collect the 200 starter beetles that the project needed to begin the rearing process and those 200 beetles turned into thousands. The fourth, and most anticipated stage of the project, was the release of the beetles onto existing Purple Loosestrife plots throughout Oneida County. In a short time, those plots will be decimated after the beetles eat away at them.
But there is one more stage and it requires your help. The Oneida County Land and Water Conservation Department is actively looking for NEW Purple Loosestrife plots within the County. This is a great opportunity for Oneida County residents to become involved in slowing the spread of invasive species and get rewarded for it. Individuals that report a new, undocumented Purple Loosestrife site or plot in Oneida County will receive a free canvas bag that depicts a beautiful lake scene, drawn by an area artist, and an AIS message. Remember, our County roads are in the process of being surveyed so don’t report any County road locations.
Please be a part of the campaign to rid Oneida County of invasive species and report any new sightings. Contact Michele Sadauskas, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator at (715) 365-2750 with any information on new plots you may detect. Once the plot or location has been confirmed as a new site, you can stop in to collect your canvas bag. This is just our way of letting you know that we appreciate your help!
For more information on this project or others, call the Oneida County Land & Water Conservation Department, AIS Team at (715) 365-2750, email [email protected], check out our blog at oneidacountyais.com or visit oneida.uwex.edu/.