U.S. Water News Online
TRENTON, Neb. -- Federal officials may release bush-eating
beetles at Swanson Reservoir to help rid the drought-depleted lake of
saltcedar shrubs that are guzzling groundwater and crowding the
Debra Eberts, a botanist with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in
Denver, said her agency is considering releasing the insects known as
saltcedar leaf beetles to help control saltcedar growing freely where
the water has receded.
If the lake is approved for the bio-control project and the proper
permits are obtained, beetles could be released starting next spring,
The larvae and the adult beetle eat the leaves of the saltcedar
and scrape tissue off small twigs. ``They don't need to eat
everything to kill it,'' she said.
Eberts said the same beetles were released at a 100-acre research
site in Pueblo, Colo., in 2001, and in its third year, the insects
have defoliated most of the saltcedar in the area.
The beetle is eating only the saltcedar, Eberts said.
``It's not jumping onto the cottonwoods even with the saltcedar
defoliated,'' she said. ``These guys won't tolerate anything other
If the beetles are released at Swanson Reservoir, Eberts strongly
recommends that local weed specialists and the state Game and Parks
Commission have a ``revegetation plan'' ready to implement as the
saltcedar dies out.
``We don't want the land to go back to another weed,'' she said.
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