Development of Salt Cedar Biocontrol Methods for Water Supply Recovery and Protection, including a Demonstration on the Arkansas River

Project ID: 506
Principal Investigator: Debra Eberts
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Funded Fiscal Years: 2004, 2005 and 2006
Keywords: None

Research Question

The goal of this project is to learn whether _Diorhabda elongata deserticola_ is an effective biocontrol for salt cedar, and what nontarget effects (on other vegetation and wildlife) may result from its use. We will also learn as much about the insect and its habits and environmental requirements as possible in order to work with it effectively.

Need and Benefit

Salt cedar clogs waterways and consumes up to three times more water than native vegetation. It has invaded most riparian areas (approximately 1,600,000 acres) of the arid Western United States, causing an annual water loss estimated to be as great as 2,500,000 acre-feet. The annual dollar value of lost irrigation water is estimated to be as high as $121,000, 000, and the annual dollar value of lost power generation along the Colorado River alone is as great as $43, 600, 000. Total losses are set at $291, 000, 000 annually (Zavaleta 2000).

Costs for use of traditional methods of salt cedar control were estimated in the above article and by Reclamation weed managers and researchers to average about $2,000/acre (for root plowing or cut stump herbicide application). Equipment, supplies and labor for these methods are costly.

Biocontrol insects, once developed, provide a less expensive option. Biocontrol methods would assist Reclamation to deliver water savings at lower monetary and environmental costs.

Since insect supply is frequently the bottleneck in biocontrol programs, this project will establish a site of supply and additional understanding for the use of insects to help control salt cedar at Reclamation facilities.

Zavaleta E. 2000. The Economic Value of Controlling an Invasive Shrub. Ambio 29:8, 462-467

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 4/4/17