On July 28th Little Forks Conservancy’s AmeriCorps Member, Erin Dodd, assisted with the release of Galerucella (pronounced gala-ru-sell-a) beetles in Sanford. This project was coordinated by Matthew Lindauer from the Central Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area. Galerucella beetles are small light brown beetles that are native to Europe and Asia. They have been introduced to the U.S. to help control purple loosestrife, which is also native to Europe and Asia.
Purple loosestrife is an invasive species that can outcompete native vegetation and reduce biodiversity. It grows in wetland habitat and flowers from July to October. Purple Loosestrife is a tall plant that can grow over 5 feet tall. For small patches of purple loosestrife, it can be pulled (remove all of the roots) before the flower petals start to drop and disposed of in plastic bags. Trying to control large areas of purple loosestrife with chemical and mechanical methods can be expensive and require years of follow up. It can also result in spreading the seeds to new areas if people aren’t careful.
Biological control with the Galerucella beetles is much easier. The beetles eat the purple loosestrife and researches have not found any detrimental effects since their introduction to America in 1992.
The beetles we received for release were kept in netted pots of purple loosestrife. These plants also had Galerucella larvae. About 40 of these pots were split among five locations in Sanford to release the Galerucella. Pots were placed in areas full of purple loosestrife where Galerucella could easily move from the potted plant to neighboring plants. Larvae and beetles caught in the net were also shaken out and removed by hand to ensure the maximum number of Galerucella were released.
Galerucella can overwinter and females lay a couple hundred eggs each year. Hopefully the small population we released July 28th can spread to control purple loosestrife in areas we did not reach.
Written by Huron Pines AmeriCorps member Erin Dodd. Huron Pines AmeriCorps is a program of Huron Pines and is supported in part by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Michigan Community Service Commission, Huron Pines, and contributions from host sites.