Non-native bugs threatening habitat for endangered songbirds
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Conservation advocates say non-native tamarisk-eating bugs have gone haywire, destroying habitat needed by endangered southwestern willow flycatchers, native songbirds that need thick riparian vegetation to survive.
The exotic beetles were imported from Asia to destroy invasive tamarisk plants seen as a threat to water resources, but now the bugs have invaded the nesting areas of southwestern willow flycatchers in southern Utah, Nevada, and northern and western Arizona. If the beetle spreads farther without mitigation, it could seriously threaten the flycatcher’s survival, according to Dr. Robin Silver, with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Efforts to eradicate tamarisk are costly and labor-intensive, and some recent research by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that exotics (including Russian Olive) use about the same amount of water as native willows and cottonwoods.
In June 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture temporarily restricted release of the insects based on concerns about impacts to flycatcher habitat. The decision is outlined in this USDA memo. Continue reading “Environment: Feds face lawsuit over tamarisk-killing beetle”