The Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA) is looking for people interested in scouting and monitoring purple loosestrife infestations. The NRWA has been working on a pilot bio-control project to manage purple loosestrife, the “pretty” purple plant that invades wetland communities. The native insects, birds, and mammals that feed and reproduce in wet areas cannot use purple loosestrife in the way that they can use the native species which displaced by loosestrife, so food webs and reproduction cycles are disrupted. Each year since 2008, the NRWA has released Galerucella beetles at 12 sites as biological control agents to feed on and control the loosestrife. To evaluate how successful the beetles have been, the sites are monitored by NRWA and volunteers twice a year. June monitoring showed positive results with less loosestrife reported.
On Wednesday, August 3rd, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. in Groton, the NRWA will offer a training session where attendees can learn how to recognize purple loosestrife, how to assist with monitoring, and how to complete a form to report new infestations. Citizen reports will help us further understand the level of infestation watershed-wide. We will be selecting 5 new sites to release beetles in the spring of 2012. As we select release sites for 2012, we are particularly interested in learning about purple loosestrife infestations in: Ashburnham, Ashby, Ayer, Clinton, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Pepperell, Princeton, Shirley, Townsend, and Westminster.
To sign up for the August 3rd training, get directions, or for more information on the project, please contact Kathryn Nelson, NRWA Project Coordinator, at (978) 448-0299, or email [email protected]. If you can’t come on August 3rd, you can still help by completing our Loosestrife Infestation Report Form. The ongoing success of loosestrife control is made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, and a contribution from the Groton Garden Club.