April 2017
The Fungal Bat Disease, White-Nose Syndrome, Has Spread to Texas

Unfortunately, white-nose syndrome (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), a disease caused by a fungus that has been killing millions of bats across the Northeast, has reached Texas. Conservationists and state and federal wildlife officials confirmed in March that the fungal infection has been detected in bats in the Texas panhandle. The encroachment into the Southwest has hit three species: the tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus), cave myotis (Myotis velifer) and Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii). The latter two are primarily western species that have been largely unaffected until now.

"It is a turning point," said Jonah Evans, a state mammologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). "It is the first time that we've detected it in bats with a primarily western distribution." Differences in the biology of the 32 species of bats in Texas, combined with our warmer climate, may help to minimize the disease's spread and impact here in Texas. Read more at phys.org and at TPWD's news release.

white-nose syndrome
Credit: Darwin Brack, Minneapolis Star Tribune

New Q&A Available for Buyers, Sellers, and Producers of Baled Hay Regarding Red Imported Fire Ant

If you buy, sell, or produce baled hay, please read the new factsheet titled “Questions and Answers: Moving Baled Hay From Areas Under Quarantine for Imported Fire Ant”, produced by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). This publication contains useful information for farmers, ranchers, hay growers, and suppliers, especially those who are responding to recent wildfires in … Texas and are seeking critical feed sources for livestock. Its goal is to help support commerce and the movement of hay, while guarding against the further spread of the imported fire ant. For more information, click here.

red imported fire ants
Credit: USDA APHIS PPQ Archive

Fire Ant Control: The Two-Step Method and Other Approaches

Janet Hurley, Texas A&M AgriLife, has written an article on different methods of controlling the red and black imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri). "When it comes to insect pests, fire ants would probably top everyone’s list! Red and black imported fire ants are invasive species and their painful bites can injure or kill livestock, wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. Their large mounds (as many as 300 per acre) are unsightly and often damage mowers and other equipment. Fire ants also infest buildings and can damage electrical equipment by chewing on wire insulation.

"Fire ants cost Americans $6 billion a year, including the cost of insecticides. The Two-Step Method and other approaches described here can lower that cost while reducing environmental damage and improving fire ant control. Knowing your options will allow you to make better choices to protect your family, pets, and property."

For more, and a link to the complete article, click here.

red imported fire ant
Credit: USDA APHIS PPQ - Imported Fire Ant Station , USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Managing Elephant Ear on Lady Bird Lake

Austin continually works to manage elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta, also known as wild taro) along the shores of Lady Bird Lake. As the City notes in a blog post, "Elephant ear is a native of the Asian tropics and has been in Central Texas since at least 1929. On Lady Bird Lake it likes to keep its feet wet right at the water’s edge. It can grow so densely that it prevents other plants from getting established. This reduces the diversity and resilience of the shoreline habitat, as well as the foraging areas available to large water birds such as herons and egrets. The shallow roots of small elephant ear plants are easily uprooted in floods, which allows the plants to move downstream and start new colonies. Approximately 1/4 of the shoreline below the South 1st St bridge is impacted by elephant ear. It is especially common on the north shore, where it gets plenty of sun throughout the year."

The City recognizes that removing every single elephant ear plant along the shore is impractical. It does work to keep the population small, and mitigates the invasive plant's impacts by replacing it with natives. For more information, see the City's Creekside Story blog.

Texas Conservation Corps crew members removing a 1,200 square foot patch of six-foot tall elephant ear. Credit: Austin Watershed Protection Department

Registration Open – North American Invasive Species Forum

Registration is open for the North American Invasive Species Forum, to be held May 9-11, 2017, in Savannah, Georgia. Registration is $200 and includes 3 lunches and 2 dinners. Optional Field Trips are available on Thursday Afternoon, May 11 – Saturday, May 13. Space is limited for some trips. The North American Invasive Species Forum is a biennial conference encompassing the interests of professionals and organizations involved in invasive species management, research, and regulation in North America. There will also be a pre-forum workshop on invasive species mapping and data. Click here for more information.



May 9-11, 2017
Savannah, GA


Upcoming Webinars

Pest Management from an Ecological Framework
May 9, 2017 1:00 pm Central
This webinar will focus on ecological management of agricultural pests (insects and slugs). It will emphasize the importance of pairing soil health practices with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to ensure that gains in soil health are not degraded by unnecessary pesticide use. Learn more.

Southern Pine Beetle Biology, Ecology, and Management (recorded)
This webinar covers basic biology, ecology, and management of the southern pine beetle (SPB). While the focus of the webinar will be the southeastern U.S., attention will be given to the recent encroachment of SPB into the northeastern states. Learn more.

southern pine beetle
Credit: USDA-NRCS New Jersey

APHIS Expands the Citrus Greening Quarantined Area in Louisiana

Effectively immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) and the Louisiana citrus industry, is expanding the area quarantined for citrus greening (or huanglongbing) (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus) to include all of Jefferson Parish. APHIS is taking this action because of the positive detection of citrus greening in plant tissue samples collected from a residential property... [Citrus greening is a problem in Texas.]

APHIS is applying safeguarding measures on the interstate movement of regulated articles from the regulated areas in Jefferson Parish. This action is necessary to prevent the spread of citrus greening to non-infested areas of the United States.

More information on citrus greening at the APHIS webpage .

Citrus Greening
Credit: H.D. Catling, Bugwood.org

APHIS Releases New Weed Risk Assessments

APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) has posted Weed Risk Assessments (WRA) for the following seven species:

  • Aegilops neglecta (three-awn goatgrass)
  • Aegilops triuncialis (barb goatgrass)
  • Echium plantagineum (Paterson’s curse)
  • Hirschfeldia incana (shortpod mustard)
  • Myagrum perfoliatum (bird’s-eye cress)
  • Torilis leptophylla (bristlefruit hedgeparsley)

Read more.

Paterson's Curse
Paterson's Curse, Echium plantagineum. Credit: Lesley Ingram, Bugwood.org

Invasive Spotlight:
Emerald Ash Borer
(Agrilus planipennis)

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is native to eastern Asia and was first recognized as a pest in the U.S. in the Detroit, Michigan area in 2002. It has killed millions of ash (Fraxinus sp.) trees in North America. It was detected in Harrison County, Texas, in 2016, where there is a quarantine.

Emerald ash borer adults are small, about 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide, and a uniformly metallic, emerald-green color. They can be distinguished from other metallic green beetles by the unique coppery red upper surface of the abdomen. The white segmented larvae, which live in serpentine galleries they create while feeding on the living tissue just under the bark, have distinctive bell-shaped segments.

Signs and symptoms of an emerald ash borer infestation include die back from the top of a tree, splitting bark, increased woodpecker activity and epicormic growth from the bark.

To prevent the spread of this beetle and other pests, do not transport firewood from one location to another. When traveling, buy local firewood where you burn it and spread the word in your community. For more information on preventing movement of pests, visit dontmovefirewood.org

Learn more about emerald ash borer.

Because the emerald ash borer poses a very serious risk to ecosystems as well as agriculture, it is one of the “Dirty Dozen” pest species identified by the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council and USDA-APHIS. Therefore, it is one of the “Report It!” alert species on the Texasinvasives.org website and reporting mobile app. If you find a suspected infestation, please Report It.

Credit: Howard Russell, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org
EAB adult
Credit: David Cappaert, Bugwood.org
EAB larvae
Credit: David Cappaert, Bugwood.org

More News

Robots, High-Tech Tools Join Battle Against Invasive Species
A robot zaps and vacuums up venomous lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) in Bermuda. A helicopter pelts Guam's trees with poison-baited dead mice to fight the voracious brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis). A special boat with giant wing-like nets stuns and catches Asian carp (several species) in the U.S. Midwest. Learn more at phys.org.

Exotic Species Aren't All Bad
When it comes to their role in aquatic ecosystems, non-native water plants are generally no different than indigenous species. In fact, they can be an asset. That doesn't mean all exotic species should be given free rein. However, they can be managed more effectively if the focus is on their properties and not their place of origin, suggests one expert. Read more at sciencedaily.com.

European Green Crab Found in Washington State
A new population of invasive European green crab (Carcinus maenas) has been found at Dungeness Spit, near Sequim, Washington, rekindling concern over the potential for damage to local marine life and shorelines. The invasive crabs appear to be more abundant at Dungeness Spit than at the two other known locations in Washington's inland waters. Read more at phys.org.

Growth Rate Could Determine Sex of Sea Lamprey
Researchers have serendipitously discovered that unlike most animals, sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus), an invasive, parasitic species of fish damaging the Great Lakes, could become male or female depending on how quickly they grow. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Raccoon Dog Represents Risk for Transmission of Local Parasites in Europe
The raccoon (Procyon lotor) and the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) are two non-indigenous animal species that have become established in Europe in the past decades. Their increasing abundance has not only made them the most common carnivore species in some countries, but has also made them of interest to parasitologists as potential hosts for diseases. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.


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 iwire@texasinvasives.org.

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, which are free, include information on the Sentinel Pest Network, which serves to increase the awareness and early detection of the 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 Texasinvasives.org designed to help organize and track volunteer-based eradication efforts.

Upcoming Workshops:

Saturday, July 29, 2017
Location: Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center (Humble, TX)
Contact: Rose Belzung Holmes

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