Tamarisk Biocontrol: Saltcedar Beetle Project

Saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to the eastern Mediterrranean region and tropical Asia. Introduced to the United States in 1823, saltcedar was once used to stablizie riverbanks and prevent erosion. Today saltcedar is considered a detriment to the native habitat, quick reproduction and a need for large quantities of water put a strain on natural vegetation

flooded site
Flooded Site

and wildlife. In 2006, attempts to establish the Tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp.) at three locations along the Rio Grande River was conducted in an effort to control the spread of saltcedar and restore the riparian corridor, which has become populated by a monoculture of saltcedar.

In August through October of 2008 many of the sites were flooded and beetle populations negatively affected. Flooding was a result of both unseasonally heavy rainfall and emergency releases of water into the Rio Conchos. The sites downriver from Presidio through Big Bend National Park were the most affected . However, nearly every site saw a reduciton in beetle populations due to standing water. Standing water does not allow for the beetle to complete their life cycle because they pupate on the ground.

Currently, several release sites along the Rio Grande are showing signs of success as beetles have become established and over 90 miles of saltcedar has been defoliated. At
present there are several beetle projects, each with numerous sites being conducted in Texas.


site in June 2010 release site
June 24, 2010 Release Site

Below are several links to privately posted (not USDA) articles about the tamarisk beetle.

Wikipedia Articles

Mediterranean tamarisk beetle:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_elongata
Larger tamarisk beetle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_carinata
Subtropical tamarisk beetle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_sublineata
Northern tamarisk beetle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_carinulata
Southern tamarisk beetle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_meridionalis

Wikispecies Taxonomy Data

Mediterranean tamarisk beetle: http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_elongata
Larger tamarisk beetle: http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_carinata
Subtropical tamarisk beetle: http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_sublineata
Northern tamarisk beetle: http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_carinulata
Southern tamarisk beetle: http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_meridionalis

Wikimedia Pictures

Mediterranean tamarisk beetle: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_elongata
Larger tamarisk beetle: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_carinata
Subtropical tamarisk beetle: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_sublineata
Northern tamarisk beetle: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_carinulata
Southern tamarisk beetle: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Diorhabda_meridionalis


We would like to thank the following people for their hard work and dedication:
C. Jack DeLoach, Research Entomologist USDA/ARS Grassland, Soil & Water Research Laoratory 
James L. Tracy, Biological Science Technician (Insects) USDA/ARS Grassland, Soil and Water Research Lab
Allen Knutson, Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Center
Mark Muegge, Texas A&M University Texas Agricultural Extension Service Department of Entomology
Patrick Moran, USDA, ARS Biologcial Pest Control Research 
Jerry Michels, Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Center 

This page provided by:

Dr. Christopher M. Ritzi, Sul Ross State University
Chair of Biology Department, Primary Investigator Saltcedar Beetle Project
(432) 837-8112, (432) 837-8682 fax  critzi@sulross.edu

Anne Marie Hilscher, Sul Ross State University
Lecturer, Research Associate on Saltcedar Beetle Project
(432) 837-8112, (432) 837-8682 fax