March 16, 2010

For beetles, pest control a steady dietThis is a 6-60-1 dummy headyne yyyyy

By JOHN RICHARDSON Staff Writer

— By JOHN RICHARDSON

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Wed., July 23, 2008. Close-up of beetle that Joe Anderson from the York County Conservation District and Portland's arborist Jeff Tarling will release leaf eating Galerucella beetles to eat purple loosestrife seen here at the Ocean Ave. dog park in Portland.

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Wed., July 23, 2008. Joe Anderson from the York County Conservation District positions a 2mm size beetle on his finger before he released potted loosestrife plants containing the leaf eating Galerucella beetles to eat purple loosestrife seen here at the Ocean Ave. dog park in Portland.

Additional Photos Below

Staff Writer

Portland's effort to fight the spread of a pretty, but unwanted, purple flower got some fresh reinforcements Wednesday morning when officials released an army of tiny leaf-eating beetles in a few strategic areas in North Deering.

Portland joined a growing number of communities, land trusts and golf courses trying to use biological controls to slow the spread of purple loosestrife.

A so-called aggressive invasive, loosestrife arrived in the United States from Europe in the 1800s and has spread across the country. It pushes out native plants that provide habitat for insects, birds and other wildlife.

Loosestrife is sometimes pulled out or sprayed with herbicides, but the more common method of attack is the Galerucella beetle, a tiny insect that eats only purple loosestrife.

''They're hungry,'' Joe Anderson said Wednesday as he shook beetles from netting onto a patch of loosestrife.

Anderson, project manager for the York County Soil & Water Conservation District, brought potted loosestrife plants loaded with the beetles to Portland early Wednesday. The beetles are raised by the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells and distributed by Anderson and others around southern Maine as part of a control program paid for with federal conservation grants, he said.

The beetles won't rid Portland of loosestrife, but they should keep it in check, as they eat their way through the plants. ''It's really going to be about two to three years before we see a big change,'' Anderson said. Then, he hopes, the plants will gradually die back.

Jeff Tarling, Portland's arborist, chose several infested areas near the Falmouth border, including a valuable grassland area that attracts insects and birds to the site of the city's old landfill off Ocean Avenue. Loosestrife has spread there from low-lying wet areas into the meadows.

''It's amazing how it started out with a few purple flowers and how quickly it's filled in,'' Tarling said.

Tarling said he hopes the beetles will keep the plant from spreading into even more valuable areas such as Back Cove.

The use of beetles is increasing as communities and organizations realize the damage that invasive plants can cause, even ones with bright purple flowers, according to Anderson.

''It's pretty,'' he said, ''but it definitely comes at a cost.''

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Wed., July 23, 2008. Joe Anderson from the York County Conservation District seen here distrbuting beetles with Portland's arborist Jeff Tarling(not in photo) to release leaf eating Galerucella beetles to eat purple loosestrife seen here at the Ocean Ave. dog park in Portland.

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Wed., July 23, 2008. Close-up of beetle that Joe Anderson from the York County Conservation District and Portland's arborist Jeff Tarling will release leaf eating Galerucella beetles to eat purple loosestrife seen here at the Ocean Ave. dog park in Portland.

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Wed., July 23, 2008. Joe Anderson from the York County Conservation District positions a 2mm size beetle on his finger before he released potted loosestrife plants containing the leaf eating Galerucella beetles to eat purple loosestrife seen here at the Ocean Ave. dog park in Portland.

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Wed., July 23, 2008. Joe Anderson from the York County Conservation District seen here distrbuting beetles with Portland's arborist Jeff Tarling(not in photo) to release leaf eating Galerucella beetles to eat purple loosestrife seen here at the Ocean Ave. dog park in Portland.

  


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