Wetland Invasive Species & Biocontrol Program

Meet Cella (pronounced CHEL-luh). Cella is our invasive species program mascot, a Galerucella beetle. Cella eats purple loosestrife - only purple loosestrife, and we are helping Cella to eat up the purple loosestrife in Wisconsin through our program "See Cella Chow!"

Purple loosestrife may look lovely, but the invasive plant is unwelcome in Wisconsin's wetlands. The plant, Lythrum salicaria, invades wetlands and out-competes the native vegetation, producing a dense monotypic stand. The plant is a hardy, flowering perennial that was introduced to North America from Europe. It was brought over in ship ballast and imported as a popular garden plant and a medicinal herb. It is reported to be useful for treating diarrhea, dysentery, sore throats, and leucorrhea, and for washing wounds. The Department of Natural Resources has a great page that will give you just about everything you need to know about identifying and controlling purple loosestrife.

During the 2002 and 2003 summers, WWA, with the support of the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the help of more than twenty natural resource agencies, conservation and education organizations and individuals, coordinated road and waterway surveys of 27 Wisconsin counties. More than 200 volunteers logged found more than 800 infested areas. The results of their initial survey efforts can be found on the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission's website:www.glifwc-maps.org - for the 2003 county-by-country reports, click here. You can download a brief introduction to Purple Loosestrife bio-control by clicking here.

Thanks to continued funding from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the American Transmission Company and new funding from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, We Energies Foundation, and Dairyland Power Cooperative, the program expanded in 2003 in several important ways . . .

More counties: WWA offered nearly 50 training sessions throughout much of the state in July and August when Purple Loosestrife was in bloom and easily sighted. We covered 14 counties that the 2002 survey didn't reach. If you would like to add your county or community to the updated survey area, WWA can provide you with a training CD that can help you to conduct your own local survey.

Our goal is to create a grassroots solution to our growing invasive species problem. By providing technical and financial support, we are enabling local lake associations, 4-H clubs, and paddling groups to take a stake in the health of Wisconsin's waterways.

Another problem species: Phragmites australis, also called Common or Giant Reed Grass, is another invasive species that concerns Wisconsin Wetlands Association and the state. We gathered some data on Phragmites in our coastal counties in the summer.

Grants for local groups: WWA gave away more than $5,000 to groups and individuals to coordinate and conduct research on purple loosestrife biological control.

Educational materials: Developed as a teacher's resource, See Cella Chow!: A Purple Loosestrife Biological Control Manual for Teachers is now available as a PDF file from DNR's website and is also available in print.

To find out more about our invasive plants programs, upcoming trainings, and any of our publications, please contact us at 608-250-9971 or see our calendar.

How do we know this beetle won't become a pest? Click here for detailed analysis of the Galerucella's eating habits.

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