January 2017
Innovative Cooperative California Program Addresses Sale of Invasive Plants

One of the difficulties in managing invasive plants is that some of them continue to be sold as landscaping plants. Even as we remove them from green spaces and natural areas, new ones move in from surrounding gardens and other managed landscapes. Typically, the horticulture, nursery, and landscaping industries have been reluctant to remove invasive plants from sale because these plants are popular. However, a program in California called PlantRight™ illustrates that this reluctance can be overcome.

A 2007 study found that almost 50% of California's invasive plants were originally introduced through horticultural channels. To address the ongoing sale of invasive plants, several government, environmental, nursery, landscape and other groups founded PlantRight in 2005. "Since its inception, PlantRight has brought together leaders from the nursery industry, environmental advocates, academics, and professional landscapers to find cost-effective ways to stop the sale of invasive plants. Recognizing that prevention is the most effective way to combat their spread, PlantRight offers an opportunity for the nursery industry to take the lead on this issue, while protecting California's unique biodiversity and curtailing the need for regulation. PlantRight's model has been recognized as a solution whose application could carry well beyond California's borders."

It's a model that offers those of us battling invasive plants in Texas an exciting path forward.

The program is discussed in an excellent webinar presented January 11, 2017 by PlantRight's Doug Johnson. Click here to access the recording, but you will need to become a member of the Ecological Landscape Alliance to watch it.

For more information, go to PlantRight's website.

PlantRight logo




Invasive Species the Current Theme for IEEE Earthzine

Every quarter, the online magazine Earthzine covers a different theme, and this quarter the theme is invasive species. Your truly, Hans Landel (Invasive Species Program Coordinator at the Wildflower Center and editor of the iWire), is guest editor for the magazine, which is sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Oceanic Engineering Society (OES). Over the next three months, expect to see articles, research, opinion pieces, and news items about invasive species. It promises to be very interesting.

Earthzine logo Earthzine tagline Earthzine OES IEEE logo

Webinars of Interest

"Chilli thrips, an emerging pest of roses in Texas"
Wed, March 8, 2017 11:00 AM – noon AM CDT
Dr. Steve Arthurs, Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Since they were first detected in Texas in 2005, chilli thrips (Scirtothrips dorsalis) have spread to several counties and continue to impact roses and other plants in the landscape. The pest is hard to spot, and symptoms may be mistaken for leaf rust, rose rosette disease or other causes. Join the webinar to learn how to detect this pest and help manage it as it continues to spread throughout the state. Reserve your Webinar seat now.

"Emerging thrips-vectored diseases"
Wed, Feb 15, 2017 11:00 AM – noon AM CDT
Dr. Steve Arthurs, Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Tospoviruses cause disease in the production of begonia, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, impatiens, and many other greenhouse and nursery crops. They also infect tomato and other vegetable crops. These pathogens are spread by thrips, tiny insect vectors that can spread on the wind. Dr. Arthurs discusses issues related to these important plant diseases including how the global trade in plants as well as new invasive insects (vectors) will increase the threat from tospoviruses in Texas. Reserve your Webinar seat now.

chilli thrip

Credit: Andrew Derksen, University of Florida, Invasive.org


The transmission cycle for Tospovirus transmission by thrips. Credit: Ron Mau, University of Hawaii

Port Aransas Tree Removal and Planting Workshop

Monday, February 20, 2017, 9 AM to 3 PM
Seminar Room, Estuarine Research Center
Marine Science Institute - University of Texas as Austin
750 Channel View Dr., Port Aransas, TX 78373

Mission Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve will host a one-day workshop in Port Aransas covering work and safety tips to consider while removing invasive Brazilian peppertrees (and other trees) and how to plant trees afterwards. The featured presentations are "Tree Work Safety" by Mark Kroeze, Teas A&M Forest Service, and "How to Plant a Tree" by Mark Kalbfleisch, Certified Arborist. Recognizing that using basic hand tools is as much an art as it is a science and that work efficiency is learned on the job, the presenters will provide tips to make your work removing the invasive Brazilian pepper tree more efficient. Additionally, a demonstration on how to plant a tree will be provided. Both of these experts have extensive on-the-job experience in tree care and are in demand and train arborists and homeowners across Texas. They guarantee you will learn tips on both subjects, or they will return you money.

Cost is $20. Please register by Friday, February 17. Register and Agenda at www.sa-aa.com.

There will also be a Brazilian peppertree removal work party, as well as an Invaders of Texas training workshop, on Tuesday, February 21. Contact Katie Swanson for work party details and see below for workshop details.

remove Brazilian peppertree

Credit: Hans Landel, Lady Bird johnson Wildflower Center



Invasive Spotlight:
Blue Hound's Tongue
(Cynoglossum creticum)

Blue hound's tongue is a non-native plant from the Mediterranean region north through France. It has been introduced to Argentina, Chile, and Australia. In Australia it is currently on the Alert List for Environmental Weeds (“28 introduced plants that are currently not very widespread but are considered to pose a threat to Australia's environment”). It was discovered in Texas for the first time in March, 2015, and its only other U.S. populations are found in Missouri and Arkansas. An article describing the plant and its distribution in North America was published in the journal Lundellia in December 2016.

Blue hound's tongue has the potential to outcompete and suppress native grasses and forbs. Its leaves contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are toxic to livestock. While livestock will avoid it in pasture, they may consume the plant if it is mixed in with fodder. It has become a problem in pastures in some parts of the world.

Blue hound's tongue starts growth as basal rosettes. When flowering, it grows 1-3 stems up to 60 cm (24 in) tall and covered in fine soft hairs. The inflorescence uncoils as it ages, with the flowers arranged along one side of a stem. The flowers are small (7-11mm [0.3-0.4 in]), consisting of five petals and range from blue to pink with dark veins. The dark green leaves are oblong, can reach a length of 200 mm (8 in) and a width of 25-30 mm (1-1.2 in), are covered in hairs and are alternately arranged with short petioles. They have entire (untoothed) margins. Fruits occur in groups of four. They possess tiny hooks that allow them to attach to animals (including people) and travel long distances.

Please keep your eyes peeled for this potentially invasive plant, especially i
f you live in the vicinity of Oakalla. If you find it, please report it to your local AgriLife Extension agent and to us at tippc@texasinvasives.org.

Follow this link for more information on blue hound's tongue.

Blue hound's tongue

Credit: Bill Carr

Blue hound's tongue flowers

Credit: Minnette Marr, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Cynoglossum_creticum_mericarps_stuck to gloves

Fruit stuck to gloves. Credit: Minnette Marr, LBJWC

More News

Natural Gas Trade Opens Door Wider for Invasive Marine Species
The U.S. is on the brink of a natural gas boom—but with the additional shipping and concomitant carriage of ballast water, that could expose its shores (particularly Texas) to more invasive species, Smithsonian marine biologists report in a new study. Learn more.

Kudzu Bug-Resistant Soybeans Being Developed
Kudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria) are a species of hemipteran that feeds on kudzu (Pueraria montana), a welcome characteristic. However, these insects do not specialize on kudzu: the feed on legumes, and unfortunately are pests of soybeans. In response, researchers at the University of Georgia are developing cultivars of soybeans that are resistant to the kudzu bug. Learn more.

2017 Imported Fire Ant and Invasive Ant Conference is May 16-18
The 2017 Imported Fire Ant and Invasive Ant Conference will be held May 16-18, 2017 in Mobile, AL. The meeting starts with an evening reception on Tuesday, May 16. There will be a 2-hour meeting of the Ant Pests eXtension CoP immediately following the conference on the afternoon of May 18. Please bookmark this site so it will be handy: Invasive ant conference.

Breeding Adelgid-Resistant Trees Beginning to Pay Off
The balsam woolly adelgid (Adelges piceae) and the hemlock wooly adelgid (A. tsugae) have taken an ecological and economic toll as they have destroyed Fraser firs and eastern (Tsuga canadensis) and Carolina hemlock (T. caroliniana), respectively. Research that is looking for resistant individuals as well as cross-breeding with resistant related species is entering the stage in which resistance will be tested in experimental trees. Learn more.

Jekyll or Hyde? The Many Faces of Phragmites
Common reed, Phragmites australis subsp. australis, is a European reed that has displaced native plants in aquatic habitat
primarily in our northeastern states. Recent research shows that it is contributing CO2 to the atmosphere in greater amounts than a wetland with natives does. At the same time, it helps to build up shoreline in the face of sea-level increase. Learn more.

Invasive Sedge Protects Dunes Better Than Native Grass
The invasive species Carex kobomugi, or Asiatic sand sedge, was first found at New Jersey's Island Beach State Park in 1929. The species is aggressive, outcompeting native vegetation and reducing local biodiversity. In many places, land managers have made great efforts to remove it. But a new study finds that the sedge is better at preventing erosion of dunes during big storms compared to its native counterpart, Ammophila breviligulata, or American beach grass. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Invasive Fern In Florida Threatens To Take Down More Than Just Trees
LeRoy Rodgers, of the South Florida Water Management District, has quite a problem on his hands – or perhaps we should say, on his islands. He is dealing with the invasive Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum). As its name implies, it grows up and over vegetation. It can cover whole islands. The fern is threatening to become one of the worst invasive plants in Florida. For more details, read and listen at NPR.org. (The Old World climbing fern is related to Texas' invasive climbing fern, the Japanese climbing fern, Lygodium japonicum.)

Global Map of Non-Native Bird Species Allows Study of Invasions
The global map of almost 1,000 alien bird species has been produced for the first time. It shows that human activities are the main determinants of how many alien bird species live in an area but that alien species are most successful in areas already rich with native bird species. More than half of all bird introductions occurred after 1950. The bird-cage trade most important means of movement. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Plants Emit Different Chemicals When Attacked by Exotic Herbivores
Many plants emit odors in response to herbivory. A new study reveals that the combination of chemicals that make up that odor changes depending on whether the plants studied are attacked by exotic or native herbivores. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Otherwise Threatened Species Find Havens as Introduced Species in Cities
International trade of wildlife has pushed many species to the brink of extinction, while at the same time introducing many to urban centers or wilderness areas outside their natural ranges. A new study identified 49 globally threatened species that have established introduced populations. While these introduced populations may have negative impacts on the native species, they may also help to save the threatened species. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

New Moth Pest Threatens Crops in West Africa
The moth Spodoptera frugiperda, commonly known as fall armyworm moth, was first found in Africa in 2016. A native of Latin America, it can attack more than 80 different plant species, including important crops such as maize, rice, sugarcane, sorghum, grains and other plants in the grass family. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Bioinvasion Through the Suez Canal Is Jeopardizing Mediterranean Marine Communities
Non-indigenous organisms introduced through the Suez Canal are causing irreversible damage in the Mediterranean, harming native species and habitats, impairing potentially exploitable marine resources and raising concern about human health issues, according to a new study. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Study Assesses Invasive Marine Species Risk Represented by Atlantic Shipping Trade
A review of data from the Northeastern (NE) and Southwestern (SW) Atlantic Ocean found a minimum of 44 high-impact invasive marine species in the NE Atlantic and 15 in the SW Atlantic. Pathways of introduction and spread most cited are ballast water and biofouling for both regions and aquaculture in the NE Atlantic. "Although the two regions have significant shipping traffic, no exchange of invasive species could be directly associated to the shipping between the two regions." Learn more at ScienceDirect.com.

Grass Carp in Three Great Lakes
It has long been known that at least a small number of grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) were in Lakes Erie, Michigan and Ontario. "Invasive grass carp … pose a significant environmental risk there, but time remains to prevent them from getting out of hand, according to a [recent] scientific analysis." Read more at phys.org.


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 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:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Location: Marine Science Center (Port Aransas, TX)
Contact: Hans Landel

Saturday, March 25, 2017
Location: Texas A&M Central Texas-Killeen
Contact: Hans Landel

Saturday, July 29, 2017
Location: Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center (Humble, TX)
Contact: Tyler Phillips

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