Program Using Beetles To Attack Tamarisk Passes Milestone

A year after taking flight a flock of beetles continues to eat their way through tamarisk along the Colorado River, raising hopes that a program begun last year will prove successful.

Working with the insectory in Palisade, researchers last year released 8,000 Tamarisk Leaf Beetles into selected areas along the Colorado River of western Mesa County. Since that time the beetles have had offspring, which is good news for the battle on tamarisk. The beetles should be going into hibernation soon, accoring to Mark "Sparky" Taber of the BLM. He says that it's difficult to see the difference now between defoliated and "normal" tamarisk now, but next year, he says, the difference should be easily seen.

More beetles should be released into other streamside areas if the program continues to be successful. The ultimate goal of the beetle program is to wipe out tamarisk,which grows along streams and rivers throughout the west. A native of China, each tamarisk tree can use up to 300 gallons of water per day.