SE Portland neighbors who dealt with beetle infestation in 2015 - KPTV - FOX 12

SE Portland neighbors who dealt with beetle infestation in 2015 should have better year

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Evidence of the Galerucella beetle in Teresa Darling's backyard. (KPTV) Evidence of the Galerucella beetle in Teresa Darling's backyard. (KPTV)
A photo of the beetle infestation in SE Portland in August 2015. (KPTV) A photo of the beetle infestation in SE Portland in August 2015. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

If you live in the Oaks Bottom or Sellwood neighborhoods of southeast Portland, you remember the tiny, brown beetles that swarmed plants and hung thick in the air for a few weeks in August 2015.

“Last year, they devoured this plant,” Teresa Darling told Fox 12, pointing to a plant in her backyard. “It all came down to brown leaves in 24-48 hours.”

So you can imagine her concern when she started to see the same tiny insects on the same plant Sunday morning, chewing holes in the leaves.

“I just thought, ‘Oh my God, I have got to nip this in the bud this year because I am not going to go through what I went through last year,’” she said.

She sprayed the plants with a dozen or so little beetles, and contacted the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Last summer, the ODA said the Galerucella beetles were introduced to the area to feed on an invasive plant at the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, called the purple loosestrife.

But this year, there’s some good news for neighbors like Darling.

The ODA tells Fox 12 entomologists have been monitoring the area since spring, and only 10-20 percent of the plant came back this year. The small population of returning Galerucella beetles have already eaten through it, which is great news for the refuge.

While the tiny insects may feed on a few other things – like Darling’s backyard plants – the purple loosestrife is the only plant that can sustain its life cycle.

So, experts say, the few beetles that are back in the neighborhood this year should not be as bad this season.

“Last year this explosive population happened because there were 40 acres of very tall plant material out there, and so it's not expected that the plants will ever reach that amount of material again,” said Beth Myers-Shenai, Integrated Weed Management Coordinator with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

“I am delighted, I don’t want to see them this year,” said fellow Sellwood resident, Carole Hagin. “I hope they don’t come back.”

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