Southwestern willow flycatcher boots tamarisk leaf beetles from 13 states

A picture named southwesternwillowflycatcher

From The Aspen Times (Mead Gruver):

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service last week formally ended its program of releasing saltcedar leaf beetles to eat saltcedar, also known as tamarisk, in 13 states: Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Montana, Washington and Wyoming.

The reason for the program’s demise is the southwestern willow flycatcher, an endangered species found in scattered pockets around the Southwest. The bird nests in saltcedar, as well as in native willows and cottonwoods.

Concern that beetles could destroy much of the bird’s nesting habitat was why the USDA excluded New Mexico, Arizona and California from the beetle-release program, which began in 2005.

Now, scientists think the beetles are likely to spread from the states where they were introduced. They say it could be just a matter of time before the insects chew through saltcedar all the way down the Colorado River drainage in Arizona and eastern California.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.

One thought on “Southwestern willow flycatcher boots tamarisk leaf beetles from 13 states

  1. Thank you for this article. I knew that herbicides were being used to kill tamarisk, but I didn’t know that there was a biological weapon against them. Either way it is pointless destruction because the tamarisk is there because of changes in the water levels and its eradication will not benefit the native trees species that are no longer adapted to the conditions where tamarisk now thrive.

    The “restoration” movement is doing far more harm to the environment than any benefit they claim for their efforts. Our watersheds are being poisoned by herbicides, millions of trees are being destroyed thereby releasing tons of sequestered carbon, and our air is being polluted by dangerous prescribed burns.

    Here is an article on the Million Trees blog about the use of herbicides to kill tamarisk and a success story about the return of the Southwestern willow flycatcher to a meadow in the Sierras, accomplished without destroying anything:

    The native plant movement has a death grip on our public lands. Their “restorations,” particularly in radically changed urban conditions, benefit no animals or humans, except those who make a living with their destructive activities.

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