August 2018
Registration Now Open for Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference!

Registration is now open for the 7th Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference. The early-bird deadline has been extended to Friday, September 21, 2018. The early-bird registration fee is $175 for non-students and $75 for students. The fee increases to $200 for non-students and $85 for students after the early-bird deadline. So, register early!

Four field trips and a workshop are also now scheduled. One field trip will tour the UT-Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's research plots where data has been collected over 20 years on the effects of prescribed burns and mowing on plant community structure, including invasives. Staff will also discuss invasive plant management at the Center. The field trip will conclude with a tour of the rest of the Center. This tour is free.

Another field trip will visit a site along Lady Bird Lake and another along an urban stream, where City of Austin personnel will discuss invasives management, including Austin's Invasive Species Management Plan. This will offer the opportunity to learn how a city manages invasive species. There is a fee of $25 for non-students and $10 for students, which includes a box lunch.

The third field trip will visit the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP) followed by Lake Travis. BCP was established to protect habitat for threatened and endangered species, including the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo as well as karst cave invertebrates. While hiking in the Preserve, you will learn about the preserve and its efforts to manage invasive species. At Lake Travis you will see first–hand how large the population of zebra mussels has grown in little over a year. TPWD personnel will discuss their effects on the lake. There is a fee of $25 for non-students and $10 for students, which includes a box lunch.

The fourth field trip will be a guided tour of the LBJ Presidential Library. Adults are typically not given guided tours, so this is a special opportunity to learn about the exhibits. The cost is only $5 for non-students and is free for students.

The workshop will be a "train-the-trainer" workshop that will train participants to present the Invaders of Texas citizen science workshop. This is a great opportunity for members of Master Naturalist, Master Gardener, and Native Plant Society of Texas chapters, and others who are interested, to become a trainer for your chapter or area. The workshop is free.

More information on registration, the field trips, and the workshop can be found on the conference website.

We are still also looking for presenters, sponsors, and exhibitors, as well as participants. Register today!



TIPPC Conference 2018 date


prescribed fire WFC
Credit: LBJWC

Credit: LBJ-PL

Credit: BCP-City of Austin

For Berlin, Invasive NA Crustaceans Are a Tough Catch and a Tough Sell

Louisiana crawfish, Procambarus clarkia, may be a delicious animal native to Texas, but it is causing problems in locations around the world where it has been introduced. It is now found in Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as in North America outside of its native range in the Southern U.S states.

In Europe, it crowds out the native European crayfish, Astacus astacus, and carries a disease that kills them. A piece by NPR describes efforts in Berlin to market the invasive crustacean as a way of controlling it. The efforts are hampered by the tastes of Berliners, the fluctuating demand, and by the vagaries of catching the crayfish.

Red Crayfish
Credit: Aquarius Systems

New Resources Available for Tawny Crazy Ant Management

First funded in 2015, the Tawny Crazy Ant Working Group is developing videos, conference booth materials and booklets to help people identify and manage this pest. The invasive ant was discovered in Houston, Texas, and has since spread to all states in the Gulf Coast, traveling primarily through unintentional human assistance.

Tawny crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva) are also much more destructive than other ant species, causing electrical outages and literally suffocating livestock and other animals. Unlike many other ant species, tawny crazy ants form huge colonies. If the colony is disturbed, the queen leaves first, forming another colony elsewhere. That makes eradicating the colony difficult.

Insecticide treatments are still the major way to deal with the pest. Concerned about the impact on the environment coupled with the possibility of insecticide resistance down the road, Extension personnel in the Gulf states have been racing to gather information about the pest and disseminate it as widely as possible.

The working group helped produce six videos about tawny crazy ants, each of which delve into a different aspect of the invasive pest. The video series is available on YouTube at and through the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. The handouts they are developing will be tailored to pest management professionals, homeowners, nursery owners and cattle owners.

For more information, read the article from the Southern IPM Center.

Tawny crazy ant
Credit: Bastiaan Drees, Texas A&M University

Tawny Crazy Ant map

Texas Entomologists Warn Residents About New Tick Species

Modified from an article by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M University AgriLife at

Confirmed reports of the longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, in six states have prompted a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist to alert Texans to its possible arrival.

Dr. Sonja Swiger, AgriLife Extension veterinary/medical entomologist at Stephenville, said this East Asian tick, originally from China, "is a relative newcomer to the United States and though it has not been confirmed here in Texas, it has been confirmed in Arkansas,” as well as New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and New York, she said. This represents a broad range of environments in which the tick can survive.

Unlike many tick species, which complete their life cycle on a single host, the longhorned tick is a three-host tick. Those host species include an array of mammals and birds. To make matters worse, Swiger said the tick is parthenogenetic, meaning females can reproduce without a male, so a single fed female tick can create a whole population by herself.

Swiger said she has no reports of it feeding on people in the U.S., though it is known to attack people in other places in the world. She did say the longhorned tick is not a known carrier of the pathogen causing Lyme disease, although it is a known vector of several bacterial, viral and protozoan disease agents that affect both livestock and humans.

To prevent and offset concerns, Swiger said producers, homeowners and hunters this fall should consider conducting surveillance of ticks on their livestock, pets and harvested game and submit any suspicious ticks they find to: Texas Animal Health Commission, State-Federal Laboratory and follow instructions found here.

For more information on this and other ticks, access the Tick App at, or contact Swiger at 254-968-4144,

  Longhorned tick
Credit: James Gathany, CDC

Invasive Spotlight:
Zebra Mussel
(Dreissena polymorpha)

A highly invasive mussel with astounding negative impacts for its size, the zebra mussel has caused alarming declines in populations of fish, birds and native mussel species. As filter feeders, they remove the microscopic algae (phytoplankton) that form the basis of the food web, which has upset aquatic ecosystems. They can disrupt power plants and a city's entire water supply system by colonizing the insides of intake pipes and restricting the flow of water. Zebra mussels also damage boat hulls, plug water systems used in boats' motors, air conditioners and heads and cause navigation buoys to sink. Millions of dollars are spent each year controlling, cleaning and monitoring zebra mussels in the United States.

The zebra mussel has a maximum shell size of 4 cm. They have a distinguishing zebra-like striped pattern on their shells, and also lie flat on a smooth surface, unlike many other mussels that rock when on a smooth surface.

Zebra mussel larvae, called veligers, are microscopic and free-floating. They may survive for up to a month, during which they can spread naturally or be transported in ballast water, irrigation water, water in or on watercraft, or pipes for local water supply. After the veliger stage, they settle on and attach to a hard surface and become adult mussels.

The Zebra mussel, which is from Eurasia, was first observed in North America in 1988 in Michigan and has since spread extensively throughout the United States (map). In Texas, reproducing zebra mussel populations are now found in fourteen Texas lakes across five river basins, which are therefore classified as "infested" by Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), eleven bodies of water are classified as "positive" for zebra mussels by TPWD, and four are classified as "suspect" (map).

Watercraft have long been recognized as the primary vector for overland transfer of zebra mussels. Decontamination of watercraft with attached mussels or with water containing veligers is key to prevention, so please, Clean, Drain and Dry your watercraft, trailer and equipment.

Because of its potential negative impacts in Texas coastal waters, the zebra mussel is a Report It! species as part of the Sentinel Pest Network, a component of If you believe you have found a zebra mussel, please report this species. You will need to take a photograph of it.

Follow this link and this link to learn more about the zebra mussel.

Credit: Will Cook, Duke University

zebra mussels on rope
Credit: Hans Landel, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

zebra mussel 2018 USGS
2018 distribution. Credit: USGS

More News

Meet the Invasive Insect that Is Changing an Entire Forest Bird Community
This invasive insect's small size belies the drastic negative impacts it has had and continues to have on the bird community of the forests it infests. No, it’s not the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) –- but good guess. Read more at to learn the identity of this devastating insect.

For Exotic Pets, the Most Popular Are Also Most Likely to Be Released in the Wild
Among pet snakes and lizards, the biggest-selling species are also the most likely to be released by their owners -- and to potentially become invasive species, according to a new study. The study provides new clarity on how and why the exotic pet trade has become the primary venue by which reptiles and amphibians arrive in non-native lands, the first step to becoming ecologically damaging invaders. Read more at

Distribution of Rat Lungworm in Hawai'i, Now and into Future
The rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, is widespread in the Hawaiian Islands and its distribution may expand, especially towards higher elevations, as the climate warms. Read more at

Effective Method to Control Algae Growth on Hawaiian Coral Reefs
Researchers have found a management approach that, combining manual removal and outplanting native urchin (Tripneustes gratilla), was effective at reducing invasive, reef smothering macroalgae (Tripneustes gratilla) by 85 percent on a coral reef off O'ahu, Hawai'i. Read more at

Pinpointing a Molecule for Sea Lamprey Control
Scientists have identified a single molecule that could be a key in controlling invasive sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus). The researchers have homed in on a fatty molecule that directs the destructive eels' migration. Read more at

Female Native Mosquitoes Get Choosy Quickly to Offset Reproductive Cost of Hybridization with Other Invasive Mosquitoes
Certain female mosquitoes quickly evolve more selective mating behavior when faced with existential threats due to hybridization with other invasive mosquito species, with concurrent changes to certain regions in the genome, according to new research. The study identifies a pathway to replacement of one species by another besides competition. Learn more at

Invasive Plants: Scientists Examine the Relative Impact of Proximity to Seed Sources
A new study tackles an important, unresolved question in the biology of invasive plants. Which is most important to the establishment of new invasive communities -- proximity to seed sources, canopy disturbance, or soil disturbance? Read more at to learn the answer.

Reasons for Massive Fires in South-Central Chile
Scientists have found that non-native pine and eucalypt forests planted to supply pulp and timber mills in central Chile are contributing to the massive fires. "Chile replaced more heterogeneous, less flammable native forests with structurally homogenous, flammable exotic forest plantations at a time when the climate is becoming warmer and drier," said Dave McWethy, an assistant professor in Montana State University's Department of Earth Sciences. In addition, while native forests in the western U.S. are well-adapted to fire, most native forests in the central and southern Chile are not. Read more at

Genetic Analysis of Florida's Invasive Pythons Reveals a Tangled Family Tree
A new genetic analysis of invasive Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) captured across South Florida finds the big constrictors are closely related to one another. In fact, most of them are as genetically related as first or second cousins, according to a new study. Furthermore, the research reveals possible hybridization with the Indian python (P. molurus). Learn more at

Fresh Insight into Invasive Plant that Blights UK Rivers
New research into the behavior of an invasive plant seen on riverbanks across the UK could help improve the management of the problem, experts have found. Read more at

Protecting Trees from Imported Pests
New research unravels the dynamics of tree production, economics and variability in demand to show how to reduce the risks of importing into the UK such damaging forest pests and diseases as oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) and ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus). Read more at


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

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 designed to help organize and track volunteer-based eradication efforts.

Upcoming Workshops:

Saturday, September 15, 2018
Location: Discovery Center, 430 Riverside Dr. (San Marcos, TX)
Contact: Conrad Chappell

Saturday, September 22, 2018
Location: AgriLife Extension Office, 607 North Vandeveer Street #100 (Burnet, TX)
Contact: Susan Montgomery

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

Friday, November 10, 2018
Location: Encino Branch Library, 2515 Evans Road East (San Antonio, TX)
Contact: Jerry Morrisey

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