Invasive SpeciesGalerucella beetle

FOUND by 7HW20
Waterboro, ME
Not Yet Reviewed by Expert
Quality checked by pparent
Peer reviewed by
Field Notes
My teacher, pparent (that is his Vital Signs username), has assigned me to make the Galerucella Beetle investigation upload. Last year we found the Purple Loosetrife on our campus. Coming back this spring, we discovered that the plant was infested with small red and brown beetles! Collecting a few for photographs, he returned to the classroom. My apologies to 7hw20 or 7hw2 (same student scientist) for taking so long to submit this work. As mentioned above, we first discovered Purple Loosestrife on our school campus. The school was built in 2006, so there was a lot of disturbed ground and plenty of opportunity for invasives to enter our campus, with roads and daily bus and car traffic. We had a particularly wet Spring in 2010, if you remember. Our pond area flooded over the roads for a time. Traffic still passed through and many bus and car tires were washed clean on the way in and out of the school grounds. This is what the class decided may have been how we got Loosestrife seeds on campus, but it is just a guess. No one knows for sure, but we do know it is on campus. With the id of Loosestrife in the Fall of 2010, students looked closely at the plant leaves and noticed holes throughout. We did some research to find out that Loosestrife has few organisms that eat the plant (this is one thing that helps it be so invasive). When we zoomed in on a picture we had on the smart board in class, some students noticed brown dots in places on the leaves. Zooming in some more, the picture looked blurry, but it sure looked like there was some bug on the leaves for sure and there were holes all over the leaves, so we submitted to VS anyway with the blurry evidence pictures. I stopped by to check out the Loosestrife plant on sunny, warm Spring day. You see, we had a dilemma when we first discovered the Loosestrife plant. What should we do? We have some who say we should pull the plant out, others who thing we should monitor. With the holes in the leaves, we thought we may have a chance to see if the organism eating the leaves might keep the plant in check so after much soul searching, we left it alone. When I got to the pond area, there was the dried up stalk, and a new plant springing up in the same place. When I looked closely at the leaves, they were covered with bugs. Luckily I had a camera and took pictures. I also had a small container and gathered up a few bugs (and some leaves) to show the class the next day. 7HW20 is our resident bug expert, and she went to work getting photo evidence to make our case. The submission is delayed because I said I wanted to write the background information on the field notes. Sorry for the delay to 7HW20 and the VS community. The photo credit goes to 7HW20. Wow, what great shots. The one of the beetle on the metric ruler is a prize winner, in my opinion. Great work! We are pretty sure that this is Galerucella. Questions we still have are... 1. How did they get here? 2. Is this a common occurrence that this non native beetle that is introduced to Loosestrife infestations migrates to new places? 3. Will these beetles keep our beginning Loosestrife population in check? 4. Will these beetles move on the other plants? 5. Have occurrences of Galerucella movement been observed before? 6. When and where has the last introduction of Galerucella in Maine? (Was it in Saco several years ago?) (We did follow up this Spring, looking for more Loosestrife on campus in the Spring, to see if we could spot new plants. We searched most of the pond area didn't see any new plants (thank goodness). We will be out there again when the school year starts with a new group of 7th graders, looking for those pretty but dreaded purple flowers.)
Supporting Evidence
Photo of my evidence.
They were found on, and are eating, Purple loosetrife.
Photo of my evidence.
Right now they are only about .5 mm long. Because of this I am guessing they are newly hatched.
Photo of my evidence.
The coloring is the same. Red-ish brown with dark brown/black stripes down the back of the wing case.
Species Observation: Species Looked For
Did you find it?: 
I think I found it
Scientific name:
Common name:
Galerucella beetle
Sampling method: 
Just looking around
Photo of our sampling method.
Place Studied
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Map this species
N 43.581600 °
W -70.676234 °
Observation Site Information
A photo of our study site.
Freshwater - By water's edge
Trip Information
Galerucella Beetle
Trip date: 
Thu, 2011-06-02 12:28
Town or city: 
Waterboro, ME
Type of investigation: 
Species Survey
Time of low tide: 


Really REALLY impressive observation. My guess is that it's going to be particularly interesting to the loosestrife and beetle experts. Can't wait to hear what they have to say.

Your questions are great (and are music to "wonderWHY"'s ears!). I bet you could very easily set up an investigation that would get you closer to answering questions 3 and 4 all by yourselves. It would be important (and fun!) work to do.

Let us know what happens to these beetles, to the l'strife, and to you budding scientists!