Second (and Final!) Beetle Release!
We had our second beetle release today, putting the beetles out in a heavily infested wetland and along a ditch-line along a major highway. These cages had quite a few more beetles that had emerged from pupae; the release wasn’t expected to happen until next week! So many beetles had emerged and there was so little plant material left in the cages that we decided to move the release up a week.
On the left, a stringy plant that had beetles raised on it, near healthy loosetrife
The wetland we released beetles in was hugely infested with purple loosestrife (and morrow’s honeysuckle, and tree of heaven, and japanese knotweed, and teasel, and crown vetch), and if we can get a good beetle population established here within the next few years, we could protect a lot of critical habitat. This wetland drains directly into the Buckhannon river, meaning it is currently an excellent seed source for spreading invasive plants. Getting even one plant here under control would be a major step toward a healthier habitat.
Keith Krantz of Appalachian Invasives Management (AIM), pointing out where he placed one of the pots containing beetles
The ditches we set beetles in had large, linear populations of loosestrife. We are hoping that the beetles will spread out along the continuous line of food, chowing down over the whole ditch line if possible!
The loosestrife infestation in a wetland where beetles were released. Let’s hope it doesn’t look this healthy in a few years!
These releases have been very gratifying, a culmination of a lot of effort to get these little beetles out into the world to do a big job. We will monitor them over the next few years to see how they establish, and will hopefully raise more beetles in years to come to bolster the populations and increase the efficacy of our project!