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Better beetle sought for salt cedar control

BUSHLAND Beetles from Uzbekistan are more prolific salt cedar eaters than beetles from Greece. At least that's what Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researchers hope.

Uzbekistan salt cedar beetles being released by the Experiment Station's entomology department are the same species as those released on the salt cedar stands near Lake Meredith. They are just from a different collection point, said Vanessa Carney, Experiment Station entomology research associate.

Researchers first looked at latitude and longitude to find the beetle they thought would be best suited to this region, and they came up with salt cedar beetles from Posidi, Greece, Carney said.

"Because some of the releases in other states haven't been successful, we're starting to think it may be more complicated than that," she said. "These beetles from Uzbekistan seem to be most suited to our climate at the same latitude and longitude."

At the Meredith site, the Posidi beetles released in 2004 have made it through two winters and had two summers of success, Carney said. However, because of an early warm-up followed by a cold spell, they seem to be less prolific this summer and haven't exploded in numbers.

Dr. Jerry Michels, Experiment Station entomology research project leader, and Carney are making new releases of the Uzbekistan beetle this year in the heavy salt cedar stands on private land north of Borger. The new site was selected because of its remote location and because it is not subject to other control methods, such as fire and chemical treatments, Carney said.

A total of 25 egg masses have been released at three different sites, all within cages, Carney said. While the Posidi beetles are approved for open release, the Uzbekistan beetles have not been approved by Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for open release so they must be enclosed in tents.

The beetles being released i
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Contact: Dr. Jerry Michels
gmichels@ag.tamu.edu
806-354-5806
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
27-Jun-2006


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