February 2019
This is National Invasive Species Awareness Week – Join the TPWD iNaturalist Bioblitz!

February 25 – March 3 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, organized by the Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition. You should be involved! If you are an Invaders of Texas citizen scientist, consider doing some mapping this week, perform some removal or restoration, or contact your Satellite Group to see what can be done locally. Go to the National Invasive Species Awareness Week website and scroll down to the schedule of webinars, including one titled “Glyphosate, Friend or Foe?”

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has various activities lined up. They will have daily Tweets and Facebook posts, and have put together an iNaturalist collection project bioblitz, using the Texasinvasives species list.

Here's the general Facebook “event”:

And here's what the iNaturalist collection project looks like:







The Texas Gulf Region Cooperative Weed Management Area Had a Busy Week!

The Texas Gulf Region Cooperative Weed Management Area (TGR-CWMA) held its semiannual open meeting in Port Aransas on February 21. Among the topics discussed were updates on funding, treatments for the removal of Brazilian peppertrees (Schinus terebinthifolius) in Charlie's Pasture and near the UT-Marine Science Institute (UTMSI), prescribed burns on the Nature Preserve and on Mustang Island State Park, hog management, and continued outreach efforts. Other activities associated with the meeting, co-hosted by the Mission Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve and UTMSI, included an all-day training workshop for the Invaders of Texas Citizen Scientist Program, a chainsaw and herbicide safety workshop, a workday of removing Brazilian peppertrees from the Birding Center and from the private property of the Seafood and Spaghetti Works restaurant and a homeowner, and providing outreach during the Whooping Crane Festival.

The second semiannual meeting for 2019 will likely be in held in late September or early October. Expect there to be a workshop, a workday, and outreach events as well.

Group photo Feb 2019

Mark at safety workshop Feb 2019

Credits: Colleen Simpson, City of Port Aransas


Excellent Article on Zebra Mussels in Texas

In early February, many residents of Austin turned on a faucet, only to be met with a foul smell "like rotten trash". It turned out that the smell was due to zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) that have established themselves in Lake Austin only a little over a year ago.

This is only the latest event that illustrates the impacts zebra mussels are having across Texas. We recommend this excellent article in the Houston Chronicle that describes the negative impacts that these filter feeders have caused across the United States but also specifically in Texas.


Credit: Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.

Winter Can Be a Positive Factor in the Control of Texas Invasive Species

"Winter, especially late winter, can be an ally in the war against some of the invasive species that threaten and greatly damage the state’s native natural resources. Take two of the worst: Feral hogs (Sus scrofa) and giant salvinia (Salvina molesta)". For more information, see this article in the Houston Chronicle.

giant Salvinia on Lone Pine Stretch of Caddo Lake

Credit: Allen Knutson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

2019 North American Invasive Species Forum

The North American Invasive Species Forum will be held September 30 – October 3, 2019 in Saratoga Springs, New York. 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. The 2019 Meeting will be a joint conference with the New York Invasive Species Research Institute out of Cornell University, an internationally renowned center of academic research and outreach.

The conference program will seek to bridge the geographic divide between West to East and North to South, connecting terrestrial and aquatic invasive species management, research, policy, and outreach initiatives and opportunities across North America. Presentations, workshops, tours, and special symposia will highlight successful initiatives that bridge the gap between geographic, political, and and public-private boundaries.
Click here for more information.



September 30 - October 3, 2019
Saratoga Springs, NY

Join a Flower Garden Banks Lionfish Research Expedition

Texas Lionfish Control Unit will again lead two expeditions of trained scientists and volunteer divers to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in 2019. These 4-day research expeditions, in partnership with NOAA-Flower Garden Banks, Ripley’s Aquarium, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and M/V Fling will remove lionfish (Pterois volitans) from the sanctuary and gather scientific data for lionfish research. Scheduled dates are June 9-13, 2019 and August 25-29, 2019. For more information, including eligibility requirements, registration information, and goals and objectives, go to http://texaslionfish.org/expeditions/.


Invasive Spotlight:
Chinese Tallow Tree
(Triadica sebifera)

Chinese tallow is a deciduous tree that grows to 60 feet (18 m) in height and 3 feet (90 cm) in trunk diameter. Its leaves are alternate, simple, and ovalish- to rhomboid-shaped. It dangles spikes of yellowish flowers in spring, yielding small clusters of three-lobed fruit that split to reveal white seeds in fall and winter. Its foliage turns a beautiful yellow-to-orange in Fall.

Chinese tallow will transform native habitats into monospecific (single species) tallow forests. It alters light availability for other plant species. Fallen tallow leaves create unfavorable soil conditions for native plant species. By outcompeting native plants, Chinese tallow reduces habitat for wildlife as well as forage areas for livestock.

This tree is highly adaptable, invading stream banks, riverbanks, and wet areas like ditches as well as upland sites, and thriving in both freshwater and saline soils. It is shade- and flood-tolerant. It can reach reproductive age in as little as three years and prolifically produces seeds, which are readily transported by water and birds. It also propagates via cuttings, stumps, and roots. It was commonly planted as a landscape plant (although in Texas this is now illeagal); these plants serve as sources of invasion into natural areas.

As a species regulated by the Texas Department of Agriculture, Chinese tallow cannot be legally sold, distributed, or imported into Texas.

Follow this link for more information on Chinese tallow.

chinese tallow leaves with hand

Credit: Tyler Philips, Invaders of Texas

chinese tallow flowers

Flowers. Credit: Thomas Preuss, Invaders of Texas

chinese tallow Fall foliage with fruit

Fall foliage with fruit (some still surrounded by the capsule). Credit: Crystal Mann, Invaders of Texas

More News

Visual Guide to Identify Invasive Self-Cloning Tick
Researchers have created a visual guide to help identify and control the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), which transmits a fatal human disease in its native countries and threatens livestock in the United States. [This tick could survive in Texas.] Read more at sciencedaily.com.

Non-Native Honey Bees Monopolize Prize Resources in San Diego County, CA
New research revealed that non-native honey bees (Apis mellifera) often account for more than 70 percent of pollinators observed visiting flowers in San Diego County. They also monopolize the most abundantly blooming plant species. These results suggest there may be a strong effect on the ecology and evolution of native plant-pollinator interactions. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Death Cap Mushroom Expanding Its Range
A deadly poisonous mushroom, the death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) is slowly expanding its range. Originally introduced to the east coast of the United States, the species then established in the San Francisco area and is now in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at theatlantic.com.

Fighting Invasive Plants with Native Plants
Sometimes planting native plants in an area infested with invasive plants can give them the competitive advantage they need to replace the invasive. Learn more at the humanegardener.com.

Scientists Strategize for Better Conservation Plans
Endangered and invasive species may be better managed in the future with new techniques that determine likely suitable habitat by correcting the claimed erroneous assumption that the species is always the appropriate level for niche estimation. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Predicting Where the Globally Invasive Noble False Widow Settles Next
The noble false widow spider, Steatoda nobilis, which is native to Madeira and the Canary Islands, has been introduced accidentally to countries around the globe, causing considerable concern. A team of researchers was surprised to learn how the species became so widespread, and predicted where it could appear next. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Why Charismatic, Introduced Species Are So Difficult to Manage
Some introduced species, like zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), tend to be reviled by the public, and people willingly adhere to strict management policies. However, if an animal has that elusive quality of charisma, people often don't want it to be controlled, even if it's harming the environment. Inevitably, these imbalances in public perception of introduced species influence the way those organisms are managed. Read more at sciencedaily.com.

Indigenous Hunters Have Positive Impacts on Food Webs in Desert Australia
Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world. Resettlement of indigenous communities resulted in the spread of invasive species, the absence of human-set fires, and a general cascade in the interconnected food web that led to the largest mammalian extinction event ever recorded. 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 detect and report invasive species as citizen scientists. Workshops, which are free, are designed to introduce participants to invasive species and the problems they cause, cover aspects of invasive species management, and teach identification of local invasive plants, and to train participants to report invasive plants using the TX Invaders mobile application. The workshop is 7 hours long (usually on a Saturday, but scheduling is arranged with each individual host group). The workshop satisfies Master Naturalist training requirements.

Sentinel Pest Network workshops serve to increase the awareness and early detection of a set of particularly important invasive species, to help prevent their spread into Texas or their further spread within Texas. Participants learn to identify species such as the Emerald Ash Borer, Cactus Moth, Asian Longhorned Beetle, and other pests of regulatory significance, and to report them. The workshop is 3.5 hours long. The workshop satisfies Master Naturalist training requirements.

Upcoming Workshops:

Saturday, March 16, 2019
Invaders of Texas Workshop
Location: Camp Kubena (Ledbetter, TX)
Contact: Judith Deaton

Saturday, May 10, 2019
Invaders of Texas Workshop
Location: St. Michael's Catholic Church (Jasper, TX)
Contact: Lori Horne

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