Monday, July 28, 2008

Week of July 27, 2008

Updated July 31

VIDEO: Meet the Beetles

By Jeff Mucciarone, Canton Journal/Patriot Ledger

Canton, MA - Clouds of beetles swarmed over a wetland meadow at Brookwood Community Farm last Thursday.

The tiny, winged creatures latched onto clusters of plants and began to munch away on the plants’ leaves. In some spots, the beetles nearly covered the purple flowers adorning the tops of the thickly spread greenery.

The beetles were taking over—and that’s exactly what the Neponset River Watershed Association is hoping for.

Purple loosestrife is engulfing big sections of the Neponset River watershed. But the Canton-based watershed association, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Wetlands Restoration Program are fighting back—with beetles.

For the second time this summer, officials and volunteers released thousands of Galerucella beetles, which exclusively eat purple loosestrife.

Eliminating purple loosestrife is part of the state department of conservation and recreation’s statewide program to restore wetlands. For five years, officials and volunteers will release beetles and monitor sites in the Neponset River watershed to control and hopefully eradicate purple loosestrife, said watershed association Outreach Director and Restoration Manager Carly Rocklen.

As they fly up from their buckets, some beetles immediately grab onto plants, while others fly a little way before nestling down to feast.

The beetles are mailed from a beetle harvester in New Jersey in buckets. The packages come with an ice pack to keep the beetles cool during the travel, Rocklen said.

Galerucella beetles have been studied since 1986 to make sure releasing them to feed on invasive species isn’t creating further environmental issues. In some studies, the beetles have reduced purple loosestrife by 90 percent, according to the state’s project summary.

Members try to release beetles inside healthier plants. The beetles themselves leave behind holes on the plants’ leaves, but it’s the beetles’ larvae that actually wreak the most damage, Rocklen said. “They really strip the leaf from top to bottom,” Rocklen said of the larvae. “They need purple loosestrife to complete their life cycle.”

During the next year, watershed association staff and members are planning to take the next step and become beetle farmers themselves. To do that, farmers will need to grab a purple loosestrife plant and some netting to keep beetles around the plant.

The association has met some resistance from people who don’t want them to get rid of purple loosestrife because it is so attractive. Rocklen has noticed spots where people have planted purple loosestrife prominently in their yards. In that sense, a lot of the association’s job is to raise awareness, Rocklen said.

For more information about the wetlands restoration program, volunteering or becoming a beetle farmer, contact Carly Rocklen at 781-575-0354 x303 or The watershed association also wants reports of locations of purple loosestrife infestations within the watershed. Full Article and Video

You can also view the video at the bottom of this page.


Workshop in PA on biocontrol of mile-a-minute weed

All are invited to a workshop sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and University of Delaware to be held on August 25, 2008, at Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA). Talks and discussion updating current information on biological control of mile-a-minute weed will be presented from 10 AM – noon, followed by a box lunch and field trip to research and release sites. Registration is free, and includes entry into Longwood Gardens, box lunch, and transportation to and from field sites. You must register by August 15, 2008.

Click here for information about the workshop and how to register.


Swallowwort control funding hits snag in northern New York

By Jaegun Lee, Watertown Daily Times

CAPE VINCENT, NY — Pale swallowwort is infesting Grenadier Island again this summer, but action is held up because of changes in regulations.

The Watertown office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service developed a 10-year, $90,000 Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) to spray and control the rapidly spreading weed on the island.

For five years, four people who own 900 acres of grassland have received funding from the agency to control the weed.

But their work came to a halt this year when Wyatt Uhlein, one of the landowners, was notified that the use of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, a popular herbicide used to kill the plant, does not meet the NRCS guidelines for controlling invasive species.

"We have been using 2,4-D successfully for the past five years," Mr. Uhlein said.

He was told that he must use either RoundUp or Garlon 4, another brand of herbicide, to receive funding.

"NRCS has no desire to cancel the WHIP contract with Mr. Uhlein," said John Groveman, a spokesman for the Conservation Service.

He said that the NRCS has no intention of pulling the plug on the treatment program and that it is willing to resume work if Mr. Uhlein follows the regulations set by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Full Article


New York State DEC takes aggressive action to halt northern snakehead in Catlin Creek

ALBANY, NY (07/29/2008; 1648)(readMedia)-- Implementing an aggressive protocol for responding to invasive species, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), plans to treat Ridgebury Lake and Catlin Creek above County Route 6 in Waywayanda (Orange County) with an aquatic pesticide in August. The DEC action is designed to eradicate an invasive fish called the Northern Snakehead, and to protect clean water and restore a healthy and productive fishery and natural community.

"All of us at DEC realize those who live at or near the site of this invasion will sustain some losses, including a temporary loss of the fish population and the temporary disruption of the peaceful atmosphere of the lakefront during the restoration activities. We appreciate the patience and cooperation of local residents and town officials," DEC Regional Director Willie Janeway said.

Special temporary emergency rules regarding the use of an aquatic pesticide, with Rotenone as the active ingredient, were enacted by DEC specifically to take action against the Northern Snakehead. DEC notified shoreline landowners of a proposed action plan in July. This week, landowners are being sent additional information including details on several changes made to the eradication plan based in part on public input received since then.

DEC is making a commitment to restocking and restoring the impacted waters. "Specifically, DEC will selectively remove and hold some fish - other than Northern Snakeheads -- collected from Ridgebury Lake prior to treatment and return them shortly after treatment, when the water is safe for the fish. The reintroduction of these fish will help accelerate natural restoration processes," Director Janeway said. DEC will also provide the technical support needed to develop and monitor the restoration of this fishery and will support additional restocking as determined necessary by a cooperative effort between the community and the Department.

The DEC verified the presence of the Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) in these waters late in May 2008. The Department determined that swift action to eradicate this invasive species and prevent any possible expansion beyond the headwaters of Catlin Creek is essential to protect native fish populations, natural communities and multiple clean water bodies including the Wallkill and Hudson Rivers. A species native to Asia, the Northern Snakehead is an aggressive predator fish that has the potential to prey on and compete with native fishes throughout New York State.

In an effort to prevent further spread of this invasive species, DEC now plans to treat the infested waters of Ridgebury Lake and Catlin Creek above the County Route 6 crossing, including DEC mapped Wetland MD-26, with the aquatic pesticide CFT Legumine. The original proposal was to use Prenfish, but after receiving several comments from the public about the odor associated with this product and researching alternatives, DEC chose an Legumine. This pesticide has little or no odor and has fewer undesirable inert ingredients while still being an effective eradication tool. The active ingredient, Rotenone, the same used in Prenfish, is an extract from several different tropical plants and breaks down rapidly after application with no lasting toxicity. To minimize potential impacts to human health, the proposed application will be undertaken by DEC staff trained and certified as aquatic pesticide applicators and certain restrictions will apply to public use of the waters during treatment and for 30 days afterwards. Article


Government agencies and boaters prepare to combat Great Lakes invaders

Chicago (July 29, 2008)(EPA) -- Over 30 representatives of local, state and federal government agencies and community groups will test their readiness to respond to aquatic invaders in the Great Lakes in a three day exercise in Presque Isle Bay, Pa., starting July 29. Participants will exercise on the water on July 30. This is the first time that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office has brought together a variety of groups in such an exercise. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is hosting the pilot exercise which may be repeated elsewhere in the Great Lakes and other watersheds.

Invasive species can cause great ecological and economic harm to the Great Lakes basin. Over 180 nonnative aquatic species, such as the zebra mussel and round goby, have been documented in the Great Lakes. They are introduced and spread through a variety of means, including by boaters and anglers visiting infested waterways. Recreational boaters and anglers play a critical role in preventing the spread of invasives by cleaning, draining and drying their boats each time they leave a body of water.

"These organisms prey upon or directly compete with our native species for the same limited resources, threatening the biological heritage that we share as Pennsylvanians," said Lori Boughton, DEP Chief of the Office of the Great Lakes. "While preventing new introductions is the single most important thing that can be done to combat aquatic invasive species, it also is important to quickly detect and respond to new infestations. This week we are improving our preparedness - testing the abilities of multiple jurisdictions to communicate and respond in a coordinated fashion."

During the exercise, participants will trawl for fish and practice using fish electroshocking equipment to prepare for a real-life situation where these techniques could be used to confirm the presence of an invasive species. By working together in an exercise, agencies will learn ways they can combine assets and overcome jurisdictional barriers to respond quickly to the introduction of harmful aquatic species.More information about invasive aquatic species in the Great Lakes is available at


President Bush Signs the Clean Boating Act of 2008

On Tuesday, July 29, 2008, the President signed into law: The Clean Boating Act of 2008, which exempts certain discharges incidental to the normal operation of a recreational vessel from regulation under the Clean Water Act.


Christmas tree pests target of new project in Pa.

( - University Park, Pa. -- A new Penn State research project is helping six Pennsylvania Christmas tree growers keep invasive pests at bay while reducing pesticide use.

Under the direction of Cathy Thomas, Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management ( IPM ) coordinator, the project will focus on scale pests from Asia such as Elongate hemlock scale and Cryptomeria scale that cause a lot of damage to hemlock and fir trees. "Scale pests attack Fraser, canaan and balsam firs, all of which are important Christmas tree varieties in Pennsylvania," said Thomas.

The scales are difficult to control with pesticides because they have two generations each year and adults having a waxy, armored-like covering. In addition, many of the pesticides used to control scales and other insect pests are broad-spectrum and also kill natural predators of the scales. Thomas and Sarah Pickel, Pennsylvania IPM program associate, are working with growers to develop better scouting and monitoring techniques, which will allow for fewer applications and substitution of safer chemicals.

Scouting, monitoring and the substitution of safer chemicals are all part of an integrated pest management program. IPM aims to manage pests -- such as insects, diseases, weeds and animals -- by combining physical, biological and chemical tactics that are safe, profitable and environmentally compatible.

The project is being funded by a grant from state Department of Agriculture agricultural research funds. Educational presentations of the data collected will be available for statewide use and additional training programs. The data will also be available on the Pennsylvania IPM Program's ( 800 ) PENN IPM hot line and the Penn State Christmas Tree Web site at For more information on Christmas tree pests, see Pennsylvania IPM's Christmas Tree Pest Problem Solver at Questions about the project can be directed to Thomas by calling ( 717 ) 772-5204 or by e-mail at

The Pennsylvania IPM program is a collaboration between the Penn State University and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture aimed at promoting integrated pest management in both agricultural and urban settings. For information, contact the program at ( 814 ) 865-2839, or Web site


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