Purple Loosestrife | July 20, 2012

Purple loosestrife can be quite beautiful, but it is highly invasive and often crowds out native species, both plant and animal. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

Infestations result in dramatic disruption in water flow in rivers and canals, and a sharp decline in biological diversity as native food and cover plant species, notably cattails, are completely crowded out, and the life cycles of organisms from waterfowl to amphibians to algae are affected.

Biological controls have proven effective, the article continues, using beetles that feed on the plant, or weevils that breed on it. A vast area of marsh in the northwest corner of Hardy Pond, long overrun by purple loosestrife, could well be a candidate for such a program. The beetles attack only the loosestrife, we’re told, and never stray far from the release site. They make a good classroom project.

Local beetle initiatives have long been supported by the Massachusetts Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project, but the following statement now appears on their web site:

Please note that the following links are provided for informational purposes only. DER is not actively recruiting new Biocontrol release sites at this time.

Funding is limited, no doubt; nevertheless the statement seems to leave the door open. Would DER accept a new site if pressed? (DER is the Division of Ecological Restoration, of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game.)

The photo was taken from the southern end of the pond, looking west, on July 20, 2012, at 2:37 pm.

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