The Beetles Are Coming! Critters Should Help Eat Tamarisk

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

Mesa County is playing host to a feast for uninvited guests. Officials are serving up tamarisk trees and the guests are beetles.

11 News Reporter Jessica Zartler has more on how the critter's appetite will improve the areas surrounding the Colorado River.

"The beetles are coming and it's not the 60's either," Palisade Insectary Specialist Terri Locke joked on Sunday.

She says Mesa County is about to get invaded by beetles--about 100,000 of them.

"They are kind of cute," Locke told 11 News.

How adorable the crawlers are aside, she says the bugs that have crossed the border from Utah are welcome since all they eat is the noxious water-hogging weeds, tamarisk

"They will chew their leaves right off."

Each tamarisk takes in about 300 gallons of water every day and
the Palisade Insectary has been working for almost a decade to get rid of the weeds.

Now the effort is getting a boost from mother nature and Locke is not the only one excited about the critters.

Steve Fisher, so aptly named, is the head of the fishing department at Gene Taylor's Sporting Goods Store.

He's happy to hear that the beetles may take a bite out of tamarisk.

"They're dirty and it's just so hard to get through them so I think if they're gone it's going to make access to the river a lot easier," Fisher told 11 News on Sunday.

But of course when you're talking fish, Fisher says the more water the better.

"Better habitat for the fish, you not so much low water hopefully it will help everything."

But Locke says Fisher and other fishermen shouldn't get too excited yet since it can take years to see the results of the beetles strong appetite for tamarisk trees. And until the weeds shrivel up, there will be a lot of eye sores.

"We'll see brown trees and it's not really pretty," said Locke.

But although the battle is far from over, the reenforcements will make a big difference.

"When their populations increase in the next couple of months they will be devastating to those trees."

So scientists at the Palisade Insectary will be welcoming these critters with open arms and open aquariums.

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