December 2017
7th Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference

The 7th Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference is scheduled for March 27-29, 2018, at the UT-Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX. The Conference is a professional level meeting including keynotes, concurrent sessions, workshops, field trips, poster sessions, and symposia designed to serve scientists, land managers, state and federal agencies, local governments, other professionals, and others with an interest in Texas' invasive species. This year's conference is co-hosted by the Texas Invasive Plant & Pest Council, the UT-Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the Texas Invasive Species Institute (TISI). Plan to attend!

Who Should Attend?

  • Land management specialists from local, state, and federal agencies, including municipal, regional, state and federal parks.
  • Environmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Native Plant Society, Audubon, Land Conservancies, Land Trusts, etc.
  • Researchers and students from State University systems and private colleges.
  • Companies servicing restoration and weed removal projects including equipment manufacturers, GPS providers, herbicide producers, and landscape architects.
  • Anyone who has an interest in invasive species in Texas.

Summary Schedule

  • Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - TIPPC Board of Directors Meeting, TIPPC Business Meeting, Speakers, Concurrent Sessions, Posters, Exhibitors
  • Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - Speakers, Concurrent Sessions, Posters, Exhibitors, Report from Session Chairs, Awards Banquet
  • Thursday, March 29, 2018 (Half day) - Field trips and workshops

Important Infromation

  • Abstracts: We will be requesting your presentation or poster contributions soon.
  • Call for Symposia: Members of TIPPC are encouraged to organize symposia for the conference.
  • Registration Fees: Early bird $75 student, $175 non-student. Otherwise $85 student, $200 non-student.
  • Student travel grants: Up to five travel grants will be awarded, covering registration plus stipend.
  • Student awards: Up to three poster and three presentation awards will be awarded to students. 1st place = $500, 2nd place = $400, 3rd place = $300.
  • Sponsors: Limited number of sponsorships at each of four levels:
    • Platinum ($5,000): Corporate logo on all conference materials, corporate logo and link on conference website, free exhibit space at conference, complimentary registration for 4 staff
    • Gold ($2,500): Corporate name on all promotional materials, corporate name and link on conference website, free exhibit space at conference, complimentary registration for 3 staff
    • Silver ($1,000): Corporate name and link on conference website, discounted exhibit space at conference, complimentary registration for 2 staff
    • Bronze ($500): Corporate name and link on conference website, complimentary registration for 1 staff
  • Exhibitors: $300 fee for tabletop exhibits that include one table and two chairs, or a $500 fee for space for a free-standing exhibit, with electricity
  • Continuing education credits available

As more details become available, they will be posted on the Conference website and here in the iWire, and announced on our Facebook page.




Invaders of Texas Group Wins Award from Keep Austin Beautiful

Congratulations are in order for Cliff Tyllick and his Keep Walnut Creek Wild organization! On November 16th, Mr. Tyllick accepted the award in the Beautification category from Keep Austin Beautiful Award on behalf of Keep Walnut Creek Wild. Each year Keep Austin Beautiful honors the most outstanding environmental efforts of individuals, schools, and organizations in eight categories. Winners are recognized at an Annual Awards Celebration. See the complete list of winners on the Keep Austin Beautiful website. As we have described here before, Mr. Tyllick has been instrumental in organizing volunteer efforts to remove invasive plants from Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park in northwest Austin. It is a pleasure to see his work being recognized. For those of you in his area, one way you can volunteer is to look for events on the Keep Walnut Creek Wild Meetup page. He, and the Park, could use your help.

If any other Invaders of Texas volunteer or group wins an award, we would love to hear about it and celebrate it here. Contact us at

Cliff Tyllick with award from KeepAustinBeautiful

Cliff Tyllick (second from left) with other 2017 Keep Austin Beautiful award winners. Credit: Leandra Blei

The Feral Hog Problem in Texas

Texas wildlife officials estimate there are still between two million and three million feral pigs that roam freely across Texas. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that is about 50-75 percent of the total feral swine population in the United States. According to a Texas A&M feral hog population report, feral swine have been discovered in all of the 254 counties in the state, and nearly 80 percent of all land area in Texas is considered suitable habitat for the animals. This article in the Southwest Farm Press describes the problems feral hogs cause and the challenges they pose to management and control.

wild hog

Credit: Billy Higginbotham, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

EPA Releases Draft Risk Assessments for Glyphosate

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing for public comment the draft human health and ecological risk assessments for glyphosate, one of the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States.

The draft human health risk assessment concludes that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans or pose other meaningful risks to human health when the product is used according to the pesticide label. The Agency’s scientific findings are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by a number of other countries as well as the 2017 National Institute of Health Agricultural Health Survey.

However, the ecological risk assessment indicates that there is potential for effects on birds, mammals, and (not surprisingly) terrestrial and aquatic plants.

EPA will open a 60-day public comment period for the draft risk assessments, evaluate the comments received, and consider any potential risk management options for this herbicide. It is scheduled to publish the proposed interim registration review decision for glyphosate in 2019.

For more information and for links to the assessments and supporting documents, go to this IPM in the South article. .


Simulations Indicate that Scores of Lionfish Colonized the Atlantic Ocean

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) first appeared off the coast of Florida and subsequently spread to the Caribbean and then to the Gulf of Mexico, where they are now a pest in Texas off-shore waters. Previous genetic research has indicated that at least 10 individuals were initially introduced. In a new study just published by researchers mainly at Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi as well as at two other institutions, researchers have concluded that instead, 96 (range: 48-216) colonists most likely founded the original population. "These results, in combination with other published data, support the hypothesis that lionfish were introduced to the Atlantic via the aquarium trade, rather than shipping," they say. They also note that because it is likely that their simplifying assumption that the fish were all released at one time is invalid, theirs is an underestimate of the true number of colonists originally released. For more, read the original article in the online journal PeerJ.


Credit: NOAA archives

Invasive Spotlight:
Cactus Moth
Cactoblastis cactorum)

The cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, is a considerable threat to the native Opuntia cactus population and the ecosystem it supports. The larvae of the cactus moth live and feed communally inside the pads of any species of prickly pear cacti, which eventually kills the plant if the infestation is high enough. The cactus moth, a native of South America, is so efficient at eliminating Opuntia cacti that it is used as a biological control agent in areas where Opuntia are invasive.  It has the portential to destroy Opuntia communites from Texas down through Mexico.

Cactus moth larvae are pink-cream colored at first and as they age they become bright orange-red with large dark spots forming transverse bands. Mature larvae are 25 to 30 mm long. The larvae are much easier to discern than the non-descript adults, which are gray-brown moths with faint dark spots and wavy transverse lines marking the wings and long antennae and legs. The wingspan of the adults ranges from 22 to 35 mm. Females lay on average 70-90 eggs in a distinctive stick-like formation that extends out from the cactus pad.

Damage to cactus pads by feeding can be identified by characteristic oozing of internal plant juices and insect droppings. The interior of the pads may be entirely eaten, resulting in a translucent pad.

The cactus moth has not been reported in Texas, but experts predict that its spread to Texas is not far off. It is established in Florida and South Carolina and has been reported in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Because of its potential for ecological and agricultural harm, stakeholders have formed an inter-agency partnership to monitor its distribution, the Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network. It is also one of the “Dirty Dozen” pest species identified by the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council. Therefore, it is one of the “Report It!” alert species on the website and reporting app.

If you believe you have found a cactus moth, please report this species.

Follow this link for more information on the cactus moth.

Cactus moth adult, larva, & eggs

Photo credits: (top) Susan Ellis, USDA APHIS PPQ,; (mid) Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,; (bottom) CMDMN

cactus moth damage

Left: Frass and oozing. ( ppri/Fact%20Sheets%20Library/Cactoblastis%20
cactorum, %20cactus%20moth.pdf)
Right: Translucence (LSU AgCenter)

Cactus Moth Map

Source: Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network (CMDMN)


More News

Belowground Fungal Interactions with Trees Help Explain Non-Native Plant Invasions
The invasion of nonnative plants above-ground is strongly related to what type of mycorrhizal fungi are dominant below-ground in forest ecosystems. Learn more at

Major Threats to Soil Ecosystems from a Combination of Invasive Species and Climate Change
A research team has found that, from the polar regions to the tropics, invasive soil-dwelling insects called springtails are typically better able to cope with warming than their indigenous counterparts. Climate change will benefit invasive species, suggesting major changes to the functioning of ecosystems. Learn more at

Florida Tries to Stem the Tide in Iguana Invasion
Since they first appeared in the 1960s, green iguanas have become as ubiquitous in South Florida as sunshine. State officials have not until now taken an aggressive approach toward the iguanas. But that's starting to change, as the number of iguanas and the damage they inflict reach what might be a tipping point. Learn more at

How Invasive Weeds Can Make Wildfires Hotter and More Frequent
Researchers examined how invasive plants might change the nature of a fire when burned together with native species. Learn more at

Invasive 'Supervillain' Crab Can Eat Through Its Gills
Invasive green shore crabs can 'eat' by absorbing nutrients across their gills -- the first demonstration of this ability in crustaceans -- scientists have found. Learn more at

Invasive Plants Have Unprecedented Ability to Pioneer New Continents and Climates
Discovery challenges the assumption that invasive plant species occupy the same environment in native and invasive ranges, with important implications. Learn more at

Spread of European Plant Species on Other Continents Gets Head Start Through Human Intervention
A new study has investigated the spread of European plant species on other continents. The study shows that biological globalization particularly favors those that have managed to naturalize in human-made habitats. Learn more at

One Wet Winter Can Shake Up San Francisco Bay's Invasive Species
After five years of drought in California, rain from October 2016 to February 2017 broke more than a century of records. In San Francisco Bay, biologists discovered a hidden side effect: All that freshwater rain can turn the tables on some of the bay's invasive species. Learn 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 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, January 20, 2018
Location: Headwaters of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio, TX)
Contact: Pamela Ball

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