The Evolution of a "Bio-beetle":
The Saltcedar Leaf Beetle 

The invasive Tamarix sp. (saltcedar) covers approximately 500,000 acres in Texas, mostly along West Texas streams, rivers, and reservoirs.  Biocontrol efforts have been in place since 2006, with the collection and release of approximately 800,000 Diorabda elongata (saltcedar leaf beetles) in 15 Texas counties. The saltcedar beetle eat only saltcedar and athel, a closely related tree that grows in South Texas.

The adult beetles and larvae work by eating saltcedar leaves, which results in a slow starvation of the tree.  Dr. Alan Knutson from Texas AgriLife Extension, reports that “Not many of these trees are ‘graveyard dead’ yet, but over time, our research and experience has shown canopies will die back and in some sites, trees will die as the beetles return each year and defoliate the trees.”  Additionally, AgriLife Extension research indicates that the defoliated saltcedar aren’t using as much water or shading out desirable species and produce few or no seeds. - Read More.

If this news isn't exciting enough, recent research from UC Santa Barbara indicates that evolution in acting in our favor in regards to the saltcedar leaf beetle.  Tom Dudley, the principal investigator on the project, explained that the beetle has evolved to delay its start into hibernation, an adaption to the shorter days in the southern U.S. This allows the beetle to survive until spring which prolongs reproduction and increases its effectiveness at controlling saltcedar. - Read More.
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Mass Rearing of Biocontrol Beetles in Texas: The Alligatorweed Flea Beetle

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is breeding Agasicles hygrophila (alligatorweed flea beetle) for release into the Dallas Floodway Extension.  This is an effort to control invasive Achyranthes philoxeroides (alligatorweed), a species that forms thick mats which crowd out native aquatic vegetation, restrict water flow, reduce dissolved oxygen levels, and increase sedimentation.

This flea beetle has been used to control alligatorweed for decades, starting with California and South Carolina in the 1960's.  In Texas, the Lewisville Aquatic Research Facility is conducting research and rearing the insects for release in Texas waterways.  Julie Nachtrieb from the Corps explains that "This insect can only feed on this plant or it will die. They've evolved together; they co-exist.  The insect depends on the plant. It cannot feed on anything else."
 - Read More.
West Nile Virus in Texas: 
Worst in the Nation!

West Nile virus is mostly transmitted by mosquitoes, but not by all mosquitoes. Most native mosquitoes cannot transmit the virus, while the non-native varieties from the Aedes genus have been linked to West Nile.  Aedes species are native to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, but recently their range has extended northward into the U.S. due to climatic changes in precipitation and temperature

Texas infection reports and death tolls are higher than any other state in the nation, with over 700 infection reports and 16 deaths.  Disease control officials are attributing this to Texas' unusually warm winter and rainy spring.
   – Read More.
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What's for Dinner?
The Five Tastiest Texas Invasives

Last April StateImpact Texas put together a list of the Top Ten Invasive Species in Texas to address the states' growing problem with invasive species.  In the last year or so, the idea of eating invasive species to help control populations has become increasing popular. 

In that spirit, Texas Monthly Daily Post came up with their own list:Texas's Five Most Delicious Invasive Species, and ranked them as:
5.   Black Tiger Shrimp Penaeus monodon
4.   Bastard Cabbage Rapistrum rugosum
3.   Asian Carp e.g. grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella
2.   Nutria Myocastor coypus
1.   Feral pigs Sus scrofa

Learn more about how to cook up these species in an effort to "cook" their numbers in Texas. 
More News

Biologist Track Florida's Biggest Python
A 17 foot Burmese python was captured in the Florida Everglades in a continued effort to rid the area of this high profile invasive predator. Read More.

Commander Ben is at it again!
Commander Ben's "Native Plant Avengers" video about Texas wildflowers' fight against invasive species was selected to be shown at the "Lights. Camera. Help." Film Festival.- Video Link.

Grade School Science Teachers Spreading Invasive Species
Recent research indicates that up to 25% of teachers are releasing invasive species into the wild after they are used for science lessons. - Read More.

Zebra Mussel Control Tested in Minnesota
Zequanox, a soil bacteria-derived poison, is being tested in Lake Carlos State Park Minnesota to kill zebra mussels.  This new treatment is said to be safe for humans, waterfowl, and other aquatic organisms. - Learn More.

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


SXSW EcoConference 2012:  
"Green Army" Event at Waller Creek  

Join us at Waller Creek on October 4th for the 2012 SXSW EcoConference.  This effort will include:
  • Waller Creek trash clean-up
  • Invasive species mapping
  • Making "seed balls" for the Bastrop Lost Pines Project. 

The entire effort will extend along Waller Creek from UT campus to the confluence with Lady Bird Lake, and the Invaders of Texas Program will map invasive species all along the way! 

The public portion is from 11am - 2pm, and will begin at 74 Trinity Street.   Space is limited to 150 volunteers, who can select from the above listed activities.  Get more details and make sure to RSVP!

This effort is a partnership between AMD, Keep Austin Beautiful, Austin Parks Foundation, American Youth Works, and the Waller Creek Conservancy.

Citizen Science Workshops

Sentinel Pest Network & Invasive Species Workshops
These workshops supplement the Invaders of Texas program by training citizen scientists to identify and report invasive pests of regulatory concern like Emerald Ash Borer and the Cactus Moth while they are out looking for invasive plants. The morning session will cover non-native, invasive pests, and the afternoon session will be a refresher course on non-native, invasive plants that occur in your area. 

Saturday September 29th, 2012
Location: Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge (Fort Worth, TX)
Contact: Laura Veloz

Saturday November 17th, 2012
Location: Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center (Humble, TX)
Contact: Rose Belzung


Invaders of Texas & Invasive Species Eradication Workshops
The morning session of these workshops will cover the Invaders of Texas program, focusing on training citizen scientists to identify and report invasive plants.  The afternoon will cover best management practices for control and eradication of selected species.  We will also cover a new feature on, the "Eradicator Calculator", which is designed to help organize and record volunteer-based eradication efforts.  

Saturday September 15th, 2012
Location: Houston Arboretum
Contact: Jessica Strickland

For more information or to request a workshop, please visit our Workshop Page.

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Invaders of Texas
4801 La Crosse Ave
Austin, Texas 78739

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