April 2018
Texas Gulf Region CWMA Participates in Port Aransas' Whooping Crane Festival

The Texas Gulf Region Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) participated in the 2018 Whooping Crane Festival from February 23rd-25th, 2018 in Port Aransas, TX. Activities included a work day and a public meeting, as well as educational outreach on invasive species at the trade show inside the Civic Center and outside on the boardwalk of the Joan & Scott Holt Paradise Pond. After the town was hit so severely by Hurricane Harvey, it was great to see the hundreds of people participating in the 22nd Annual Festival.

Volunteers met Feb. 21st for a work day at the Port Aransas Community Park to cut and treat Brazilian Peppertrees around the skate park, dog park, baseball fields, pond and gazebo. Staff from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Texas A&M Forrest Service, American Conservation Experience (ACE), Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program and the City of Port Aransas volunteered and treated about 3 acres of Gulf Coast Prairie habitat.

The work day was followed by a public meeting at the new Nature Preserve Headquarters. It served as a good chance to catch up on the entire CWMA and give status updates post-Harvey. It was a nice introduction to the staff and services of ACE and their new office in Corpus Christi. We discussed the future grant opportunities and purchasing co-ops that could potentially expedite the way we choose contractors or purchase supplies.

Outreach at the festival was literally center stage, as there was a table for outreach for the Nature Preserve and Keep Port Aransas Beautiful on an elevated riser at the front of the room. We handed out the new educational brochures at the Nature Preserve table and at Paradise Pond. Paradise Pond was undergoing peppertree removal work and volunteers stationed there were able to provide information about the plan for the area and the invasive removal work being done. Overall it was a beautiful weekend and a great chance to keep up our education efforts for the CWMA.

The Port Aransas South Jetty has a very nice article about the work that has been going on in the preserves, especially at Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond.

If you would like more information on the Texas Gulf Region CWMA please visit this site. For information on the Port Aransas Preserves, please email Colleen Simpson, preserves manager.

2018 Whooping Crane Fest

Volunteers ready to take on Brazilian peppertree. Credit: Colleen Simpson, Port Aransas Nature Preserves

2018 Whooping Crane Fest

More volunteers ready to take on Brazilian peppertree. Credit: Colleen Simpson, Port Aransas Nature Preserves


Credit: The Times-Picayune, The New York Times

Texasinvasives.org Receives APHIS-Farm Bill Funding for FY2018!

We are very pleased to announce that USDA-APHIS awarded the UT-Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center funding from the Farm Bill to enhance the Sentinel Pest Network and Invaders of Texas Citizen Scientist Program. The award supports the Texasinvasives.org statewide partnership to address invasive species by funding public education efforts, including free workshops and webinars, and of course the iWire.

The Texasinvasives.org team and cooperators are excited to continue this engaging partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species.

Follow this link to learn more about the Farm Bill, and this link for the list of funded projects. See below for scheduled workshops.

red imported fire ant


Citizen Scientists Wanted for Roseau Cane Scale Survey

As was reported in the iWire last month, die-offs of Roseau Cane (Phragmites australis) were first observed in Louisiana in the fall of 2016 and, shortly after, the Roseau Cane Scale (Nipponaclerda biwakoensis) was identified as a possible culprit. In 2017, Louisiana State University began a citizen scientist project inviting folks along coastal Louisiana to participate in an online survey mapping where the scale can be found. Contributions to the public survey made up almost half of their sampling points and expanded the known distribution of the scale from Port Arthur, TX to Pass Christian, MS.

This year, LSU would like to expand even further along the Gulf Coast and invites more people and agencies to participate. As these sites are hours away from them, LSU relies on your help to provide insight and understanding of the extent that the scale has reached. Please consider helping. The survey is fairly simple, asking only for a coordinate of the point that was sampled, whether the scale was present, and a photograph of the scale and the cane that they will use to verify reports. The survey is hosted by Qualtrics and can be accessed via this link. Note that reporting its absence is as important as reporting its presence!

For more information on the issue and the insect, please visit (LSU's website). Familiarity with the issue and recognition of the cane and the insect is important for participation in the survey.

If you know of others who may be interested in this issue, please share these links and invite them to participate as well.


Credit: John "Andy" Nyman, Louisiana State University

phragmites_ unhealthy_dead stems

Unhealthy stand of Roseau cane with dead stems due to scale insect. Credit: Ian Knight, LSU

7th TIPPC Conference: Submission Open for Abstracts, Symposium Proposals, Student Travel Grant Applications

The 7th Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference is taking place October 23 - 26 in Austin (venue to be determined). Plans for the Conference are still being finalized, but you may now submit abstracts and proposals for symposia, and students may apply for a Student Travel Grant on the Conference website. The deadline for submitting symposium proposals is Friday, May 25. The deadline for submitting abstracts and applications for Student Travel Grants is Friday, June 29.

Inquiries about sponsorships and exhibitors are also being accepted. Please visit the Conference website for more information.

Check back at the conference website and our Facebook page for more information as it becomes available. Information will also be updated here in the iWire.


TIPPC Conference 2018 date


Invasive Species Spotlight:
Water Hyacinth
(Eichhornia crassipes)

Although this floating aquatic native of South America is lovely, with conspicuous lavender flowers in groups of 8-15 atop a stalk reaching 16 inches, water hyacinth can cause significant negative ecological, recreational and other impacts. It alters native vegetation and fish communities by lowering light penetration and dissolved oxygen levels. It impedes boat traffic on rivers and waterways, hampers fishing, and clogs irrigation canals and intake pumps. It can decrease waterfront property values.

Plants float on and extend above the water due to enlarged-bulb-like petioles. The roots are dark and feathery, only extending into the soil during flowering if near enough to the bottom. Leaves are thick, shiny, bright green, 1-5 inches in width, and are kidney-shaped, or slightly concave. Flowers are 6-petaled, the central lobe of which has a yellow oval-shaped spot. While rarely observed, the fruit is a 3-celled capsule, containing many seeds, found in a submerged, withered flower.

Water hyacinth reproduces primarily vegetatively, via fragmentation and offshoots of the branching stems. It also reproduces via seed production in favorable conditions. Peak flowering occurs in late summer and early fall.

Water hyacinth will grow in a wide variety of aquatic habitats including lakes, ponds, rivers, wetlands and marshes, and in a wide variety of conditions. It will grow most prolifically in water of high nutrient content.

It was introduced to the United States in 1884 for water gardens.

Water hyacinth is a regulated species in Texas.  It is listed in the Deparment of Agriculture's noxious plant list and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's list of prohibited aquatic extotic species.  It cannot be sold, transported, etc., in Texas.

Follow this link for more information on water hyacinth.

water hyacinth Credit: Wendy VanDyk Evans, Bugwood.org

water hyacinth Credit: Linda Price, Invaders of Texas

water hyacinth infestation Credit: Michael Murphrey, Invaders of Texas

More News

Webinar on Invasive Insects of Shade Trees: A 30 Year Perspective from Colorado
Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, Professor and Extension Specialist at Colorado State University, will discuss the ever-changing cast of new and invasive tree insects that have become issues in the Rocky Mountain States over the past 30 years.
Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Time: 12 pm (MST)
Register here.

Global Warming Can Turn Monarch Butterflies' Favorite Food into Poison
Researchers have discovered a new relationship between climate change, monarch butterflies and milkweed plants. It turns out that warming temperatures don't just affect the monarch, Danaus plexippus, directly, but also affect this butterfly by potentially turning its favorite plant food, the invasive tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), into a poison. Read more at sciencedaily.com.

Deeper Understanding of Species Roles in Ecosystems
New methods can make it easier to predict the ecological role that a species will play when it is introduced, by accident or design, into a new habitat. Read more at sciencedaily.com.

Invasive Bullfrogs Linked to Spread of Deadly Fungus in Western US
Scientists have uncovered a strong historical link between the introduction of the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) into the western United States and the emergence of the deadly chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), a pathogen that has caused declines and extinctions. Read more at phys.org.

Researchers Develop First Gene Drive Targeting Worldwide Crop Pest
Biologists have developed a method of manipulating the genes of an agricultural pest that has invaded much of the United States and caused millions of dollars in damage to high-value berry and other fruit crops. Read more at phys.org.

Tanglehead, a Native Texas Grass, Is Behaving Like an Invasive
Tanglehead (Heteropogon contortus) is a native grass species that formerly was common but not abundant in southern Texas. Since the 1990s, however, it has spread remarkably, and now forms monocultures in many places. New research explores this grass, the effects it's having on native grasslands, and management techniques. While this grass is a native, its impacts are very similar to what we see with non-native invasives such as King Ranch bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum). Read more at sciencedirect.com (online scientific article from Rangelands).

Just One More Ash Dieback Spore Could Push European Ash Trees to the Brink
Ash dieback threatens 95% of all European ash trees and has already killed or severely damaged a quarter in southern Sweden and destroyed more than 80% of young ash trees in Norway. The disease organism's low genetic variability means there is potential for an even more virulent strain if new genetic material makes it from Asia to Europe. Read more at phys.org.

International Plant Protection Convention Approves Standards on Pests
The body charged with keeping global trade in plants and plant products safe has adopted several new phytosanitary standards aimed at preventing destructive agricultural and environmental pests from jumping borders and spreading internationally. The standardized norms developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) cover a range of strategies and techniques used to prevent the introduction and spread of plant diseases and pests to new environments, thereby avoiding their often-devastating impacts on biodiversity, food security and trade. For more information, read this article from ipmsouth.com.

Invasive Plant Choking Other Life at Carolina Beach
Carolina Beach State Park has been battling the invasive cane, Phragmites australis, on a 10-acre area since 2010. For more information, go to starnewsonline.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 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:

Friday, October 12, 2018
Location: Mission Branch Library, 3134 Roosevelt Avenue (San Antonio, TX)
Contact: Rachel Cywinski

Sentinel Pest Network Workshop
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Location: Mission Branch Library, 3134 Roosevelt Avenue (San Antonio, TX)
Contact: Rachel Cywinski

Sentinel Pest Network Workshop
Sunday, October 21, 2018

Location: Mission Branch Library, 3134 Roosevelt Avenue (San Antonio, TX)
Contact: Rachel Cywinski


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