Nation Celebrates Invasive Plant, Pest and Disease Awareness Month

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proclaimed April as Invasive Plant, Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Each year during April, the USDA and cooperators amplify public outreach about the risks that invasive plant pests, diseases and harmful weeds pose to America's crops and forests--and how the public can prevent their spread. 

"Invasive species threaten the health and profitability of U.S. agriculture and forestry, and many jobs these sectors support," said Kevin Shea, Administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). "To protect that crucial value, USDA and its partners work very hard every day to keep invasive pests and diseases out of the United States and to control those that may slip in. This April, we're asking all Americans to be our partners in this critical work."

Learn more about Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness month at USDA APHIS news.

Join the fight and contribute to this critical work by joining the Invaders of Texas Citizen Scientist Program

Photo credits: USDA APHIS PPQ Archive
Stop Vin Vasive and Hungry Pests

Hungry Pest, Vin Vasive and his cronies--Asian longhorn beetle, European gypsy moth and emerald ash borer are invasive species that threaten to harm our crops and trees. If introduced, they can devastate agricultural industries and cost billions. 

To stop Vin Vasive and other hungry pests, be aware of the top 8 ways that Hungry Pests get around and make sure you aren't unintentionally spreading these invasive species. 

To watch a short video about Vin Vasive, Hungry Pests, and one way to prevent spreading these pests follow the link to YouTube

Follow this link to learn more about Hungry Pests.

Photo credit: USDA - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Invasive Spotlight:
Feral Hog (Sus scrofa)

Feral hogs are an old world species belonging to the family Suidae and include European wild hogs, feral hogs and European-feral crossbreeds. Feral hogs are domesticated hogs that either escaped or were released into the wild. 

Feral hogs compete directly with livestock, game and non-game species for food. However, the main damage to livestock is caused indirectly through habitat destruction of the hogs rooting and trampling.

The United States Department of Agriculture is calling for a new national approach to deal with the impacts of feral hogs. The USDA and its partners are working toward just that. Through adaptive management efforts in many states, the nation is striving to get a grip on this damaging species. Learn more about the national approach at USDA Blog

Follow this link to learn more about feral hogs. To report a feral hog in Texas, please visit Feral Hog Reporting.

Photo credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
More News

Killer Cabbage Threatens Texas State Flower
The state flower of Texas, the Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) is now at it's peak of blooming. Unfortunately, bluebonnets now face a growing threat from a foreign enemy--bastard cabbage. Learn more and view the video report at CBS News

Deadly Algae Could Kill More Fish With Climate Change
Golden algae, a microscopic plant originally from Europe was first discovered in the Pecos River in 1985 when an algae bloom killed thousands of fish. A recent study from Texas Tech and the United States Geological Survey predicts that killer blooms may increase with changing climate trends. Read more at NPR StateImpact Texas.

Texas Considers Rules Requiring Draining Water From All Vessels on All Public Waters 
Currently, vessels on public waters in 47 counties must have all water drained after use to prevent spreading invasive zebra mussels. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering expanding this rule to include all vessels on all public waters statewide. Learn more and provide comment at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Louisiana Seeks Cold Tolerant Giant Salvinia Weevils
Giant salvinia weevils, which prey on invasive giant salvinia were introduced into Texas as a biological control agent. However, the weevils have been suffering in northern Louisiana where cold temperatures have reportedly killed 90% of the population. Researchers are now seeking to find and establish more cold tolerant weevils. Read more at The News Star

Native Plant Society Highlights Wild Garlic
Wild garlic (Allium vineale) is an introduced perennial from Europe that has been shown to be invasive. While known to be in Texas, herbarium specimens are not listed and citizen scientists are working to collect observations from the field. Learn more at Native Plant Society of Texas

Notice of Availability for Public Comment on Texas Feral Swine Environmental Assessment
The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) in cooperation with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is inviting participation in the development of an Environmental Assessment (EA) addressing damage and threats caused by feral swine in Texas. To receive consideration, comments must be received by May 9th. View the EA and learn more at USDA-APHIS Wildlife Damage

Invasive Species Hotline Leads Endangered Snake Home to Puerto Rico
Recently a Tampa, Florida-based business used Florida's invasive species hotline to report an invasive Burmese python. However, experts found that the reported snake was either a Puerto Rican boa or Mona Island Boa, which are both endangered on the Caribbean island. Happily, state and federal officials are working to return the snake back to Puerto Rico. Read more at the Daily Reporter.

City of Dayton Ohio Takes Novel Approach to Replacing Dead Ash Trees
City trees in Dayton have been decimated by the emerald ash borer and must be replaced. In a novel use of city-owned lands and with community partnerships, the city is growing trees to replace the dead species. Watch the video at WDTN News

Freshwater Biofoulers Carry a Big Price Tag
A new paper published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment estimates that the global management of freshwater mussels, clams, and other clinging animals costs $277 million dollars annually. This is a great reminder for recreational boaters to clean, drain and dry their equipment. Read more at

Blanco County Invasive Species Workshop is Successful
Recently, 32 residents of Blanco County participated in an invasive species workshop in Johnson City and took a field tour at Blanco State Park. Participants learned about invasive plants and other pests that are damaging Texas and how they can become involved in reporting and controlling these species. Read more at Blanco County News.  

Oregon Council Celebrates 15 years of 1-866-INVADER Hotline
Before there was an Oregon Invasive Species Council, the founders created a toll-free hotline for citizens to report all taxa across the state. Fifteen years later the hotline still is in service, acting as the first line of defense against new invasive species. To commemorate fifteen years of service, officials are sharing humorous highlights and interesting stories. Read more at Oregon Invasive Species Blog.

If you would like your invasive species event or news listed in the next iWire, please send the details to

Citizen Scientists of the Month
Blackland Prairie Invaders
and Cedar Ridge Preserve Volunteers

On April 19th, citizen scientists from the Blackland Prairie Invaders satellite and volunteers worked to control invasive plants at the Cedar Ridge Preserve in Dallas, a property managed by Audubon Dallas. Twelve volunteers worked along 75 feet of hiking trail, removing Ligustrum species and Nandina domestica.
Project leader, Dana Wilson reported, “It was rewarding not only to remove the invasives, but to liberate what was growing in and underneath them…” 
Way to go everyone! Keep up your liberation efforts! 

If you would like to highlight a successful invasive species project or nominate a special person to be highlighted in an upcoming iWire, please send the details to


Image Credit: Jim McIntosh

Sentinel Pest Network and Invaders of Texas Species Workshops

Invaders of Texas workshops train volunteers to become citizen scientists to detect and report invasive species. Workshops include information on the Sentinel Pest Network which serves to increase the awareness of early detection of Emerald Ash Borer, Cactus Moth, Asian Longhorned Beetle, and other pests of regulatory significance.

Workshops are tailored to meet the interests of your volunteer group, and supplementary session examples include an introduction to the TX Invaders mobile application and the Eradicator Calculator, a feature on designed to help organize and track volunteer-based eradication efforts.

Upcoming Workshops:

Saturday, May 17, 2014
Location: University of Texas Winedale Historical Complex (Round Top, TX)
Contact: Judith Deaton

Saturday, May 31, 2014
Location: Mitchell Lake Audubon Center (San Antonio, TX)
Contact: Paul Pruitt

Saturday, June 6. 2014
Location: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Austin, TX)
Contact: Audrey Ambrose

Saturday, June 14, 2014
Location: Collins Academy (Jefferson, TX)
Contact: Vanessa Adams

Thursday, July 17, 2014
Location: University of Texas Marine Science Institute (Port Aransas, TX)
Contact: Katie Swanson

Wednesday, September 27, 2014
Location: River Legacy Living Science Center (Arlington, TX)
Contact: Registrar

For more information or to register to attend a workshop, please visit the Workshop Page.