By June 6, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Go Go Galerucella

Galerucella beetle awaiting transport while perched on a leaf.

This week, APIPP Terrestrial Project Coordinator, Brendan Quirion, along with Summer Educator, Billy Martin, visited a purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) infestation outside of Elizabethtown, NY. This site isn’t your ordinary infestation – it has been treated using Galerucella, the Black-margined Loosestrife Beetle – a biological control agent. Galerucella has been present at this site for several years with remarkable success. Brendan and Billy recently collected Galerucella beetles in the hopes of rearing their own breeding populations in a controlled environment.
Brendan Quirion using an aspirator to harvest Galerucella.
Galerucella is native to Europe and Asia. Galerucella larvae and adults feed on the buds, shoots, and leaves of purple loosestrife plants, limiting the host plants ability to flower and make seeds. Adults predominantly feed on the photosynthetic parts of the plant, riddling leaves with holes and reducing the plants vigor and competitive advantage among natives. Galerucella underwent rigorous scientific assessment prior to being permitted for release in the U.S. to ensure that there would be little to no non-target impacts.  It is host-specific to purple loosestrife – when purple loosestrife populations decline, Galerucella populations also decline.
The APIPP team will rear the collected Galerucella beetles on potted purple loosestrife plants in an effort to sustain breeding populations for eventual release on infestations where hand-pulling and/or other management practices are not feasible. With this new addition to APIPP’s purple loosestrife management toolbox, those larger loosestrife infestations will be shaking in their soil!
Potted purple loosestrife with noticeable damage only hours after Galerucella transplant.
For more information on the use of the Galerucella beetle as a biocontrol agent please visit the Galerucella Rearing Guide prepared by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
For more information on purple loosestrife please visit bugwood.org.
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