Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project

Purple loosestrife growth form

Between 2000 and 2008, the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) engaged in the control of the invasive species Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) through the Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project.

Biocontrol is the use of natural enemies to reduce the damage caused by a pest population, such as an invasive plant. Land managers have been using beetles to control purple loosestrife in Massachusetts since the mid 1990s.

Today, while DER is no longer actively engaged in these biocontrol activities, DER contines to provide limited assistance to individuals seeking technical advice related to Purple Loosestife biocontrol activities. 

History of biocontrol (beetle release) in Massachusetts

  • The US Department of Agriculture approved releasing beetles in 1992 after six years of studies.
  • In the mid-late 1990s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began releasing Galerucella beetles on two refuges in Massachusetts to control purple loosestrife an invader threatening biodiversity in wetlands.
  • The Massachusetts Wetland Restoration Program (now part of DER) began working in partnership with the Association of Massachusetts Wetland Scientists to rear and release beetles through their Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project and coordinated the Project's first release in 2000 at a site in Walpole. Since then the Program coordinated releases at 43 sites.
  • Mass Audubon and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation began releasing beetles at Stony Brook Sanctuary / Bristol Blake State Reservation in 2006. Mass Audubon released beetles at their Endicott Sanctuary in Wenham in 2007. Mass Audubon 2008 Releases included Endicott Sanctuary, Wenham, Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, and Drumlin Farm in Lincoln.
  • Mass Audubon’s partner organizations in the Sudbury-Assabet-Concord Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area will be raising and releasing beetles in the SuAsCo watershed in 2014 and 2015.

School Involvement

Although the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER)  is not supporting new beetle releases, there are ample opportunities to involve students in continuing to map and monitor purple loosestrife and galurucella beetles. Learn More

More Information

The  following downloads are provided for informational purposes only. DER is not actively recruiting new Biocontrol release sites at this time. 

Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project Summary

WRP Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project Guidance Documentation


For more information on the Department of Fish and Game - Division of Ecological Restoration’s efforts related to Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol contact:

Georgeann Keer via email or phone 617-626-1246


Cambridge Water Department

Neponset River Watershed Association

Connecticut Purple Loosestrife Program

University of Connecticut Integrated Pest Management