Rome Pond Invasive Species Project

Project: Rome Pond Wildlife Area
County: Jefferson
Project Start Date: 04/23/2017
Project End Date: 07/05/2017

Earlier this spring, Mike Alaimo, Waukesha Chapter Chair and WWA’s Adopt-A-Wildlife Area program‘s key volunteer, worked with WDNR employee Jeanne Scherer on implementing an attack plan on the invasive purple loosestrife plants present at the adopted Rome Pond Wildlife Area.

Purple Loosestrife plants infected with the Cella beetle, being transported back in to Rome Pond

For a bit of background, from the WDNR’s website, “Purple loosestrife, an exotic plant from Europe, has overrun many state wetlands. (Check out the

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) fact sheet.) Wisconsin DNR has been using four of its insect enemies, also from Europe, to control it here since 1994. Careful research has shown that all four control species depend only on loosestrife and do not threaten native plants. This is classic biocontrol, and it is likely the best long-term control for loosestrife, reducing the need for other more costly and disruptive controls, such as herbicides.

Volunteers transporting the beetle infected purple loosestrife plants at Rome Pond

Two “Cella” beetle species (Galerucella calmariensis & G. pusilla) feed on its leaves and shoots, and are the most effective of the four types of imported insects. Cellas monitored in the state and elsewhere have decreased the vigor, size and seed output of purple loosestrife, allowing native plants to survive and increase naturally by competing better against smaller loosestrife plants.

The length of time required for effective biocontrol in any particular wetland typically ranges from one to several years, depending on such factors as site size and loosestrife density. Though loosestrife elimination is rare, this process offers effective and environmentally sound control of the plant without herbicides.”

In May of this year, approximately one month after the survey of Rome Pond, Alaimo and Scherer were joined by volunteers Ron and Anne Churchill, to remove 51 purple loosestrife plants from the wildlife area. Later that same day Scherer and other WDNR employees potted and netted the plants and released the beetles onto the plants.

WWA Volunteers and WDNR employees work to release the infected plants into Rome Pond

On July 5th, Alaimo, Scherer and the Churchills were joined by TJ Schnulle (WWA), Taylor Steager (DNR), Sam Jonas (DNR) ,and Craig Kopacek (DNR), to transport and seedRome Pond Wildlife Area with 44 beetle infected plants.

Beetle infected purple loosestrife seeded into Rome Pond

Check out Mike Alaimo’s full report to the WDNR, with lots of great images of the process from start to finish, on the invasive control work done on Rome Pond Wildlife Area.