Beetle Farmer Summary 2004
Donna R. Ellis, Extension Educator
University of Connecticut Department of Plant Science
I want to extend my sincere appreciation to all of the beetle farmers for an extremely successful purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) biological control field season. Beginning with the newspaper articles on beetle farming initiated last fall by Mary Mushinsky of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association (QRWA), through the well-attended beetle farming workshop we held in Yalesville in March, and continuing on with so many of you raising and releasing Galerucella beetles as biological control agents on purple loosestrife, this program in its first year was a huge success.
One hundred new beetle farmers participated in the program in 2004. I estimated that approximately 300,000 Galerucella beetles were reared and released into 20 new wetland sites, as well as a number of supplemental releases occurring in previously established locations. This total is equivalent to the number of beetles we released in our state during the past eight years combined. Wow!
As I traveled around the state this season visiting new release sites, it has truly been a pleasure meeting so many of you and hearing your enthusiastic comments about the program. New generation Galerucella beetles have now been introduced into wetland habitats being overrun with the invasive plant purple loosestrife. Feeding damage by the beetles in the short time they were present on the plants this summer following the releases was observed at all locations. Impacts by these biological control agents will become more evident over the next several years as the beetles become established and increase in population.
If any of you would like to meet with me at your release site in the future, please contact me to set up a visit next spring. Also, if I have not heard from you and you did rear and release beetles at a new or existing site, please let me know so we can add this information to our database.
For those of you who transported your containers of purple loosestrife and Galerucella beetles to release sites, you can collect the containers. We had one report of mowing that occurred at a wetland in Simsbury where a number of pots hidden among the tall plants were shredded. You can simply pull out the original purple loosestrife plants and the root ball from the containers and leave the plants at the site.
We will continue the beetle farming program in 2005 and will set up a workshop again in the spring. I encourage you to share your enthusiasm about the program with others as we continue to further distribute the beetles throughout Connecticut. We are certainly off to an excellent start.
On behalf of Mary Mushinsky and Illisa Kelman from QRWA, my sincere thanks to all of the beetle farmers for a job well done. Beetlemania is catching on!
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