The beetle battle against purple loosetrife

Bob Stegmier shows how easy it is to fight a harmful invasive plant by transplanting beetles.

Bob Stegmier shows how easy it is to fight a harmful invasive plant by transplanting beetles.

An imported beetle that eats an invasive plant is being used to restore native wetland species such as cattails. Jim Biener and Bob Stegmier of the Dwight Lydell Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America are looking for some friends with good eyesight and steady hands to again collect these beetles and spread them into loosestrife infested wetlands. Jim, 361-1353, coordinates the efforts in the townships of Cannon and Grattan. Bob Stegmier, 866-4769, coordinates the efforts for the Ike’s and the Rouge River Watershed Council in the Rogue River watershed.

 

Beetles feed on Purple Loosestrife.

Beetles feed on Purple Loosestrife.

Purple Loosestrife is an unwanted “beauty” in our midst. This statement so definitely describes the non-native Purple Loosestrife wetland plant in North America. From a good beginning in 2007 volunteers will again be in the wetlands colonized with the Gallerucella calmariensis beetle collecting the beetle as they emerge from the soil and beginning their spring eating and mating process. The aim of these volunteers is to collect beetles before they lay their eggs and transplant them into areas with P.L. so the eggs will be hatched in the new area. That way two beetles transplanted produces 500 new larva to eat loosestrife blossoms and seeds making our effort very effective.

 

The Rogue River Watershed Council (RRWC) with the guidance of Dwight Lydell Chapter of the Izaak Walton League will continue to collect and spread the Purple Loosestrife eating Gallerucella calmariensis beetle in the Rogue River watershed. This is a volunteer effort to control the spread of the non-native Purple Loosestrife wetland plant. Good progress is being steadily made from the south of the watershed northward. While this plant is pretty with its tall slender purple spikes it is still very much a plant that if left uncontrolled would significantly alter the native plant structure of our wetlands. Native Michigan wetland species find very little value in the plant. The beauty is short lived lasting only a few weeks in July before the blossom and stalk structure dies and turns brown. The damage continues all growing season long as the plant crowds out native plants. The result is that Michigan native wetlands species loose their “preferred” living habitat. 

Volunteers are needed and folks throughout the watershed are invited to volunteer to help in this important environmental control effort. Every year from year to year we are making good progress in controlling the affects of Purple Loosestrife.
Led by Jim Biener and Bob Stegmier of the Izaak Walton League of America, these volunteer groups will be collecting Gallerucella calmariensis beetles in areas where the beetles have known healthy populations. The emergence of the beetles is very sensitive to weather conditions so we need to be flexible. Collect the beetles and deliver them to pre-identified areas that currently do not have the beneficial bugs.

The Gallerucella calmariensis has been shown as an effective method for lowering Purple Loosestrife populations. The beetles feed exclusively on Purple Loosestrife leaves and growing tips, stunting the plants and reducing seeds without doing any damage to any other plant. Every year there are folks that express concern that the beetles will take their eating efforts to other plants. This is not a concern because before the first beetles were released this was completely studied to total satisfaction by Michigan State University. Over time the Purple Loosestrife is brought under control and the native species return.

The beetles will be collected where they are known to have healthy populations.

Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a beautiful, extremely hardy but aggressive perennial wetland invader which can quickly take over a wetland area by choking out native species of plants and wildlife and effectively destroying the native wetland habitat.
In Michigan, hundreds of species of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, fish and amphibians rely on healthy, native wetland habitat for their survival. We are currently losing wetland habitats at an alarming rate due to the spread of this invasive species.
Purple Loosestrife is a tall (five to seven feet), broad, dark green clump of stems with very showy reddish-purple flowers from July through August. It grows along rivers, lakes, streams, in wetlands and drainage ditches and along roadsides.
It is estimated that just one mature plant can produce in excess of 2.7 million seeds in one season. The seeds are very tiny and are spread by wind, water, the fur and feathers of animals, or in mud attached to animals or humans and carried from place to place.
In 1995, Michigan passed an amendment to Act 189 of the Public Acts of 1931, which forbids the sale and distribution of Purple Loosestrife. It is now against the law to sell, distribute or propagate this plant in the state.
Purple Loosestrife should never be cut and used in a flower arrangement or transplanted to a garden, roadside or landscape area. It will quickly overtake a garden and become a nuisance for the gardener and will soon disperse and spread to other areas and overtake and kill out the native species.
Where Purple Loosestrife is established, the best method for control is to cut the flower heads while the bloom is new and the flower petals have not yet begun to fall. The plants should be watched closely for several months and any new flower spikes removed.
This method of control has successfully re-established several wetland areas in the Rockford area. If there is a new, young patch of growth, pulling the whole plant, roots and all, again prior to seeding, is a very good method of control. Cuttings and plants should be disposed of in such a way that new plants cannot sprout from the cuttings and seeds cannot be dispersed. Composting is not recommended as the seeds may remain viable even after composting.
Michigan State University and Michigan Sea Grant created the Purple Loosestrife Project in 1996 which uses Gallerucella calmariensis as a biological control agent for Purple Loosestrife. The method has been successfully introduced into hundreds of infested sites with excellent success. The beetles feed exclusively on Purple Loosestrife leaves and growing tips, stunting the plants and reducing seed production. Over time the Purple Loosestrife is brought under control and the native species return. This method also has been used in the City of Rockford along the Rogue River and appears to be succeeding.

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Native Plant Sale 2009

The Order Deadline for the spring native plant sale will be May 20, 2009. The sale will be held at the Kent CD office (Grand Rapids) at 3260 Eagle Park Dr. N.E., Suite 111, Grand Rapids on May 27 at 6 p.m. For additional information call (616) 942-4111 extension 100.

There will be a cash and carry sale for customers who need help with their selection, but please remember stock is not guaranteed at the cash and carry sale so please put an order in for all items you know you want. For more information on this sale go to the tree sale section of our website where you can download our catalog for free. 

The Kent Conservation District hosts two native plant sales each year. One in the Spring and one in the Fall. Because the native plants of Michigan have evolved with our unique climate and soils, they are often times better adapted to our local conditions than their non-native or cultivated counterparts. 

Native plants also play an important role in the life cycle of many different species of wildlife including many butterflies, song birds and mammals. 

Please consider using Michigan Natives for your next planting.

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Rockford girls lacrosse wins by one over Flint Powers

Defending Division II girls lacrosse champion Flint Powers traveled to Rockford to take on the Rams in a battle between two of 2009’s elite teams. The game went back and forth over both halves with the Rams trailing early 3-1, at the half by one, down 7-6, and midway through the second half 10-8. Each time, the Rams were able to answer as they kept their resolve.

The Rams had to fight through back-to-back yellow cards that had them playing down two players for almost two minutes. The Rams’ defense held strong, only surrendering one goal during that time and scoring a short-handed goal of their own.

Rockford Coach Neerken stated, “Our defense won that game with the play during the penalty, and with their smothering defense in the last two minutes preventing Powers from getting off the tying shot.”

The entire defensive effort led by Alyssa Neumen, Lexi O’Connor, Roxy Rosema, Kelly McCabe, Jill Fowle and Emily Gray gave the potent Ram offense time to find their stride. Kelsei Streeter also played well off the bench, helping to kill the Ram penalties.

Gabby Twiest continued her strong play in the nets for Rockford with 10 saves, including two penalty shot saves.

The Powers defense tried to shut down the Ram attack, but the teamwork of Michon Moline,Abbey Neerken, Taylor Hiner and Taylor Balch drew the attention of the defense to open the scoring lanes for Andi Raymond and Meagan Emery.

According to Coach Emery, “The level of teamwork did not show in the stat book tonight. The hard work keeping the ball in our scoring zone late in the game, and opening the lane for our give-and-go was a total team effort.”

Raymond ended with seven goals and three assists. Emery had five goals and two assists, and Moline chipped in an assist to complete the Ram victory, 12-11.

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Rockford varsity tennis ties for first

Lindsay Gauger earns a first-place medal at the OK Red conference tournament.	Photo by SCOTT

Lindsay Gauger earns a first-place medal at the OK Red conference tournament. Photo by SCOTT

The Rockford High School Rams girls varsity tennis team finished the regular season with a tie for first place at the Saturday, May 9 OK Red conference tournament. In the final conference standings, Rockford placed second behind OK Red champs Hudsonville by just one point. This week, the Rams’ attention turned to the Thursday, May 14 Division I regional tournament. A non-conference match with Caledonia was scheduled for Monday, May 11. The Rams finished conference play with a 6-1-1 record, and a 9-1-1 overall record. The team won two invitationals.

At the conference tournament, the Rockford squad tied with Hudsonville at 50 points each. Lindsay Gauger and Meliah Mead earned first-place medals for the fourth doubles flight, topping the runners-up from Jenison, 6-1 and 6-0. Second singles player MJ Bothma, third singles player Alex Stembaugh, and the first doubles team of Jill Haverkate and Katie Rachon were awarded medals as runners-up in their flights.

 

Meliah Mead earns a first-place medal for the fourth doubles flight at the conference tournament.	Photo by SCOTT

Meliah Mead earns a first-place medal for the fourth doubles flight at the conference tournament. Photo by SCOTT

Rain forced the conference event indoors at MVP in Rockford, Riverview and Ramblewood for the morning. By the afternoon, the rain stopped and the tournament moved back outdoors to the Jenison High School courts.

 

The Rams were to face a nearly identical slate for Thursday’s regional tournament, except for Hudsonville. Ranked fifth in the state in Division II by high school tennis coaches, the Eagles moved to the Division II regional event.

Winning teams and top singles flights at the regional tournaments are eligible for the state finals, May 29-30. Last year’s Rockford girls varsity tennis team was the first to qualify for the state finals in a decade, and finished in 15th place.

 

MJ Bothma earns a runner-up award for the second singles flight.	Photo by SCOTT

MJ Bothma earns a runner-up award for the second singles flight. Photo by SCOTT

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Rams varsity golfers win two more

Rockford’s Steven Mette tees off at Stonegate Golf Club, while team captain Adam Hoard stands by.

Rockford’s Steven Mette tees off at Stonegate Golf Club, while team captain Adam Hoard stands by.

The Rams varsity boys golf team won another OK Red match on Tuesday, May 5 at Stonegate Golf Club in Muskegon. The Rams struggled a bit with the greens at par 37 Stonegate, but triumphed in the end. Rockford came in first place with a score of 159, followed by East Kentwood with 188 and Muskegon with 225. The Rams were led by Steven Mette, Eric Conroy and Trent Davison, each scoring 39, and Jake Chaffee with a score of 42.

On Saturday, May 9, Rockford hosted the 2009 Rockford Spring Classic at Cedar chase Golf Club, a 6,460-yard course, par 72. Conditions were partly sunny, 57 degrees, with around 10-20 mph winds.

Host Rockford again took first place with a score of 334, followed by Grandville (338), West Catholic (340), Greenville (355), and the B teams from Rockford and Grandville tying for fifth place with scores of 380. Davison led the Rams’ varsity team with a score of 80, followed by Conroy (84), Sam Gallup (84) and Mette (86). The Rams’ B team was led by Robert Pierson with a score of 91, followed by Darren Mazur (94), Jon Hughey (97) and Alex Fox (98).

The OK Red post-season match-up at Grand Haven is on Thursday, May 14, followed by the East Lansing Classic on Friday, May 15, at 7:30 a.m. Watch next week’s Squire for results.

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