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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about...Insect Thermometers


CURWOOD: Purple loose strife is now blooming at a wetland near you. This European perennial sports tall spikes of brilliant purple or magenta flowers. Settlers brought them here in the early 1800s, and before long loose strife took over wetlands across the land, creating spectacular seas of purple along the way. Problem is, loose strife, chokes out native plant species, like cattails, that provide good food and nesting habitat for waterfowl. And now, the invasive plants are creeping onto farmland, threatening crops and pastures. Several states have banned the sale of the plant, and started eradication programs. Some use an herbicide called Rodeo to kill off the promiscuous loose strife. Others have experimented with importing European weevils and other beetles, which like to eat the leaves. So far, the bugs seem to be doing a good job of keeping the loose strife in check--without harming native species. And people who love the look of the loose strife needn’t fear that they’ll disappear. There are domesticated, sterile strains of the plant. But beware the untamed European purple loose strife. One Fish and Wildlife Service notice called it “Public Enemy #1.” And for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.



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