Iowa Public Television


Wetland Hero

posted on June 29, 2001

Not spray, not plow, not even flame could stop them...until now.

The purple loosestrife, a non-native flower that has been taking over Minnesota wetlands for 200 years, may have met its match in the form of a plant-eating beetle.

The Galerucella calmariensis (Gal-err-ooh-SELL-uh Cal-mary-ENN-sis), introduced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, uses the plant as both a food source and a nursery. After a dinner of loosestrife leaves, female Galerucella place their eggs inside the purple invader. When the larvae hatch, they eat what is left of the unsuspecting flower.

The beetle won its place as the savior of the North Star state's wetlands when it showed its exclusive preference for the loosestrife while leaving native plants alone.

Tags: conservation news wetlands