In exchange for helping collect data from the monitoring plots, I got to oberve, photograph insects for the Life on the Purple Loosestrife project, get stung by a giant buck moth caterpillar(!), and see 7,500 Galerucella beetles get released in a wetland in Cutler Park, located along the Charles River in Dedham, MA.
Galerucella are in the leaf beetle family (Chrysomelidae) and will munch on any of the above-ground loosestrife vegetation. To the right is a Galerucella larva that Damon found on the back of a purple loosestrife leaf - he found egg clusters as well. The presence of larvae and eggs is a good indicator that the beetles released last year are reproducing in the wild.
Beth set the buckets inside a few big patches of purple loosestrife and set the beetles free. The sight of two thousand beetles streaming out of a big bucket is pretty cool :-). Most of them headed upward (away from the bucket and probably towards the sunlight) as fast as they could.
When all the Galerucella had emptied out of their containers, it was time to pack up and head home...but not before checking our boots and clothes for wayward beetles. Field workers and volunteers will return to check all the plots at the site again this fall.