Beetles for Biocontrol – 2021 Season Update

Purple Loosestrife has a way of establishing itself in wetlands all around the upper Midwest, but Galerucella beetles can make that foothold much less steady.

Spring in the Upper Midwest is an exciting time. Winter’s dormant wildlife awakens, often in showy displays of foliage, flowers, and flight. Wetlands have vibrant bursts of activity in springtime, but it is not only the native ecology that starts to take off. Purple loosestrife is an invasive plant that has become well-established in many wetlands throughout the region. Every year each plant produces 2 to 3 million seeds that allow the plant to continue its often unchecked growth. With no natural predation, purple loosestrife has a suite of unfair advantages over native wetland plants. It can take over whole wetlands, robbing otherwise healthy areas of ecological diversity.

Fortin Consulting is proud to continue our efforts of taking a chunk out of the purple pest by collecting, breeding, and releasing specific varieties of beetles that have been recognized by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as being beneficial for combatting purple loosestrife. By proliferating these beetles on the behalf of our local clients, we give native ecological communities a better shot at resisting the spread of purple loosestrife.

As the beetles emerge in spring, they crawl up into the canopy of established loosestrife plants. We collect a portion of these emerging beetles. This year, they have all been released directly in other loosestrife-infested wetlands that do not have established beetle populations. Another practice we employ involves bringing the beetles back to the office to rear them on captive loosestrife plants. These plants provide beetles with food and a place to reproduce. Later in the summer, these plants, along with the eggs, larvae, and adult beetles, are released into loosestrife-infested wetlands that our clients have identified.

If you are interested in partnering with us for a Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol project, contact our Field Services lead Katie Farber, katie@fortinconsulting.com.

Photos by Douglas Klimbal, FCI