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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Beetles Released in Portland to Eat Invasive Plant

Beetles Released in Portland to Eat Invasive Plant

user 3832381
Portland, ME
Post #: 56
FYI: I got this from the City of Portland's website:

July 22, 2008

Beetles Released in Portland to Eat Invasive Plant
City of Portland’s Public Services Department takes steps to control Purple Loosestrife

What: Tomorrow, the City of Portland’s Public Services Department in partnership with the York County Conservation District will release natural control beetles that feed on ‘Purple Loosestrife,’ an invasive plant that poses a threat to Maine’s native plant life. Made possible by a grant received from the Natural Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the York County Conservation District is working with Portland to control invasive plants including Purple Loosestrife. Areas of concern where beetles will be released include Canco Road, Pleasant Hill Road, and Maine Avenue.

An invasive plant is a plant that is not native to the area and has a negative effect on our economy, environment, or human health. Not all plants introduced from other places are harmful. The term “invasive” is reserved for the most aggressive plant species that grow and reproduce rapidly, causing major changes to the areas where they become established.

Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is easily recognized by its purple to magenta flowers composed of 5 to 6 petals, and its square stems. This species was introduced as an ornamental from Europe, where it is a minor component of wetland vegetation. In North America, purple loosestrife has escaped cultivation and is abundant in wetlands and other wet areas (streambanks, lakeshores and ditches) in almost every state in the U.S. Purple loosestrife forms dense single species stands that cause a decline in plant diversity and affect wildlife by reducing food and habitat for waterfowl and spawning grounds for fish. A single plant can produce 2.5 million seeds annually, and these seeds can be transported great distances by humans, animals, water and wind. Fireweed is a common native plant that is often mistaken for purple loosestrife, but can be distinguished by having flowers with four petals and rounds stems.

The leaf-feeding Galerucella beetle was one of three insect species from Europe approved in 1997 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for use as biological control agents. This friendly beetle eats only purple loosestrife.

When/Where: Wednesday, July 23
7:30 AM Ocean Avenue (enter gate at Ocean Avenue Landfill Dog Park)
8:00 AM Fall Brook, Pleasant Hill Road at Washington Avenue
8:30 AM Maine Avenue at Virginia Street

For more information about the York County Conservation District projects, go to:
Aaron P.
user 6845673
Falmouth, ME
Post #: 49
That's pretty interesting, i hope it goes well. Using one invasive species to control another always seems a bit sketchy to me.
user 3832381
Portland, ME
Post #: 58
I know, Aaron!! I feel the same way - look what happened in Australia.
It would be great if it works.
I'm curious if anyone had experience with this method.
A former member
Post #: 15
just what we need. i don't even know what this plant is. apparently it hasn't made it to Gray yet after all these years.

Let's see how quickly the beetle gets here! winkshockangry
user 3832381
Portland, ME
Post #: 60
Hey Zukie!
Purple Loosetrife is a deceptively beautiful invasive plant that grows exactly where native (and thanks to David Spahr I just discovered to be delicious, too) Cat O'Nine tails grow. I bet you've seen Purple Loosetrife in marshy areas and in wet culvert/ditches by the roadside in Gray and elsewhere. It truly is a gorgeous, breathtaking plant-especially in mass groupings, BUT it's killing a beloved native species and habitat. Scary!!
FMI: http://www.invasivepl...­
francesco s.
user 3227838
Portland, ME
Post #: 26
What happened in Australia? Oh yeah, large, poisonous frogs multiplied like rabbits roaming neighborhoods as if it was a fictional B-movie. I think this documentary is available at Videoport; no kidding.
A former member
Post #: 10
That's pretty interesting, i hope it goes well. Using one invasive species to control another always seems a bit sketchy to me.

Massachusettes introduced the beetle back in 2000. It's a biological control rather than an invasive species. I had purple loosestrife show up in my yard and gardens a few years ago. We are not a marshland, but the stuff is popping up everywhere. I think the seeds were a gift in the manure we had delivered. Maybe the birds brought it too as it is growing under the winter bird feeder in a very dry area.

I've known the plant since I was a kid. Never expected to find it here. I first saw the beetles three years ago. They found the few isolated plants and ate them to death. They touched nothing else though plenty of tasty offerings were immediatly available.

Maybe I'm naive, but my observations lead me to think the beetle is not a problem, but a solution.

You can learn a bit more about the beetles at this Mass. website:­

And you can learn a wee bit about medicinal uses and another perspective here:­

- Charlotte
Merry & Burl H.
Portland, ME
Post #: 82
I feel nervous about the beetles anyway. I wish I trusted "research." I'm more likely to trust the experience of on the ground, local farmers. "Word of farmer/gardener" and "word of cook," mean far more to me than "Word of expert or government or corporation" every time.
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