July 26, 2012
Beetle Release

As part of an ongoing effort to control the spread of the beautiful but invasive wildflower Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) in the wetland to the north of Little Fresh Pond, the Cambridge Water Department has, since 2007, annually purchased and released several thousand Galerucella beetles in the area. These tiny insects eat only the leaves and flowers of Purple Loosestrife.
This year, for the first time, it appears that the beetles have had a significant impact. The loosestrife plants are not as tall or as dense as they were in the past. It also appears that Common Cattails (Typha latifolia), originally the predominant plant in the wetland, are making a comeback.
Photos (top to bottom) show the loosestrife with cattails in the background, a closeup of Purple Loosestrife, the newly opened container of 5000 beetles, and the team who released the beetles and surveyed the plants.