Tony over at milkriverblog posted this piece about the beetles being released in Texas to control the invasive saltcedar (tamarisk, Tamarix spp.). He became familiar with saltcedars when studying a bird that uses the shrubs as nesting material. Included in his post is a good article about the biocontrol project from the San Antonio Express-News. In their effort to establish breeding populations of the saltcedar leaf beetles (Diorhabda elongata), biologists are sampling from all over the geographic range of the species, from Crete to Western China. Hopefully when these gene pools start to mix we won't find ourselves with something that develops a voracious appetite for something unexpected. As the article notes, Mexico is already worried, since they've been planting athel (Tamarix aphylla) in the northern part of the country (um...guys...time to try out a new windbreak).