Yvonne Hopkins, Project Coordinator
Several native species of vegetation in the Fort Erie, Ontario area, including the swamp rose mallow, are being forced into extinction by the spread of purple loosestrife. By crowding out the native vegetation, loosestrife diminishes the area’s ecological value. No waterfowl will nest in the plant, no fish will survive in the clogged waterways, and no animal will graze on the loosestrife or burrow between its dense web of roots.
The Friends of Fort Erie’s Creeks decided to introduce Galerucella beetles to eat the loosestrife foliage and are seeing some success. They have been battling loosestrife manually for over 10 years and biologically for three. Since release of Galerucella beetles in 2004, loosestrife on their study area has been reduced from 80% to 60% coverage. Read more about the Friends’ efforts on their website: http://www.friendsofforteriescreeks.com/.
You can help control purple loosestrife by cutting the plants back (particularly the flowering spikes, since each plant produces up to 2.7 million seeds/yr.), or digging or hand pulling. Digging and hand pulling are best done when the plants are young and roots can be most readily removed, since any part of the root left in the ground can re-sprout. Be sure to contain the plants completely for disposal, since the seeds may not be destroyed!