Officials are hoping that a beetle released in Texas will help kill off an invasive weed that has nearly taken over the entire ecosystem.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been breeding the alligator weed flea beetle and releasing into the Dallas Floodway Extension in hopes of stopping the spread of a weed that clogs waterways and threatens local fish populations, Yahoo News reported.
Folks around Dallas have high hopes for the South American beetle as it’s released into Texas.
“These are good bugs,” Julie Nachtrieb, who raises the beetles, told CBS. “They’re not going to bite people. They’re not going to be a pest.”
The situation in North Texas is growing dire, a biologist told CBS. The alligator weeds are controlling the floodway and clogging the river.
“Throughout this wetland, there’s a five foot fringe of just alligator weed,” one biologist told CBS. “No other plant can really establish itself there.”
The alligator weed has no natural predators in Texas, but it just so happens that the alligator weed flea beetle feeds exclusively on the plant.
“This insect can only feed on this plant or it will die. They’ve evolved together; they co-exist,” Nachtrieb said. “The insect depends on the plant. It cannot feed on anything else.”
It won’t be the first rescue mission for the beetle now being released in Texas. The Army Corps of Engineers has released the alligator weed flea beetle in California and South Carolina in 1964 and has even been released in Texas before, Yahoo reported. After the success the beetles had during previous invasions of the alligator weed, other countries followed the example and released beetles of their own.
The alligator weed flea beetle released in Texas is having success so far, Yahoo reported.