purple loosestrife beetle project

One of the more unique programs developed for inmates is the production of the Purple Loosestrife Beetle.

Inmates at the Yankton Community Work Center raise beetles that are used to combat the growing incursion of the noxious weed, Purple Loosestrife.

Purple Loosestrife is a perennial that blooms from July to September. It is often found in marshes, along rivers, ditches and wet meadows. Usually, areas well suited for cattails are prime habitat for the plant.

Once purple loosestrife becomes established, it soon clogs channels which carry water to growing crops.

Dense infestations of purple loosestrife also crowd out native plants used by wildlife for food and nesting habitat. Birds, fish and wetland animals will not inhabit areas infested with purple loosestrife.

Purple loosestrife can be controlled biologically by using natural enemies such as insects. Approved insects like the beetles produced at the Yankton unit are released on purple loosestrife infestations.

Each female can lay up to 500 eggs during the period of mid-May to mid-July. Larvae emerge from eggs in 7-10 days, and feed in and on shoot tips. The larvae feed and molt for approximately three weeks before moving down into the soil to pupate. It takes around 7-10 days for the young adults to emerge, which is typically from July to September. It takes approximately 5-10 years of raising and harvesting and releasing the insects to develop a colony that effectively controls an area of purple loosestrife.

Click on the picture(s) below to see a larger version.

Inmates assist with digging the roots at a site near Gayville, SD. The roots are loaded to be hauled out of the low area Inmates working on the Purple Loosestrife Pond, located at the Yankton Community Work Center, potting the roots and starting to put on nets.
Close up view of the beetles Inmate working the the beetles The beetles are released in purple loosestrife stalks for two months
A close-up view of the galerucella beetles. The beetles are used to combat the purple loosestrife. The beetles are released in purple loosestrife stalks for two months.