July 2019
Reminder: Join a Flower Garden Banks Lionfish Research Expedition

Texas Lionfish Control Unit will be leading its second expedition of the year of trained scientists and volunteer divers to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary August 25-29, 2019. This 4-day research expedition, 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. For more information, including eligibility requirements, registration information, and goals and objectives, go to http://texaslionfish.org/expeditions/.


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 public-private boundaries.
Click here for more information.


Invasive Giant Snails Found in Katy Community

According to KHOU11, the channeled apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata), whose size is indicated by its name, was recently found in a neighborhood in Katy. Originally from South America, the snails have been in Texas since the 1990s. They are an aquatic species that feed on vegetation, can damage rice crops, and can carry rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonesis, a parasitic worm of rats that can infect humans.

If you find their pinkish clumps of eggs, which they lay on surfaces out of water, scrape them back into the water, where they will drown.

You should also please report sightings to USGS.
USGS's webpage on the snail is here, and the U.S. Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force's webpage is here.

Note that federal law states that it is illegal for apple snails to be imported across state lines.

apple snail
Credit:  wwltv.com
Apple snail egg cluster
Egg cluster.  Credit:  Veer66 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Yes, the Chinese Pistache Tree Is Invasive

Although promoted by Texas A&M AgriLife as an Earth-Kind Superstar, the Chinese pistache tree (Pistacia chinensis) is in fact being recognized as invasive. Here is an article in the Dallas News describing its spread in the Dallas area by someone who used to promote it. In addition, several people have reported to Dr. Hans Landel (yours truly) during workshops and presentations that they have problems with Chinese pistache spreading.

Chinese pistache tree
Credit: Howard Russell, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Invasive Spotlight:
(Myocaster coypus)

Nutria, also called coypu, damage sugarcane and rice crops. They also dig into the banks of ditches, canals, and other waterways, causing erosion and other infrastructure damage. They feed on native aquatic plants that hold wetland soils together. Worse, nutria can quickly convert wetlands into open water.

The nutria is a large, semiaquatic rodent that is dark- to yellowish-brown. It has short legs and a robust, highly arched body that is approximately 2 feet (0.6 m) long. Its round tail is 13-16 inches (33-41 cm) long and scantily haired, like a rat tail. Males are around 20 pounds (9.1 kg) compared to 18 pounds (8.2 kg) for females. The forepaws have four well developed and clawed toes and one vestigial toe. Four of the five clawed toes on the hind foot are webbed; the fifth outer toe is free. The hind legs are much larger than the forelegs. Like beavers, nutria have large yellow-orange to orange-red incisors.

Nutria may be confused with muskrat. Muskrats are smaller and their tail undulates as they swim, unlike a nutria’s tail, which stays still.

From around 1900 to the 1940s nutria were imported from South America to be raised for fur. Many escaped or were released. In addition, state and federal agencies and individuals translocated nutria into other states, including Texas, to control undesirable vegetation and enhance trapping opportunities. In the United States, all significant nutria populations are in coastal areas. However, freshwater marshes are the preferred habitat.

Follow this link to learn more about the nutria.


Credit: John and Karen Hollingsworth, US Fish and Wildlife Service

More News

Smells Like Love...to Sea Lampreys
Spermine, a compound found in male semen, has been found to be a powerful aphrodisiac to female sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus), and may prove useful in managing the invasive fish, which causes damage to Great Lakes fisheries. Learn more at sciencedaily.org.

Lionfish Ear-Bones Reveal a More Mobile Population
By studying stable isotopes in the ear-bones of lionfish (Pterois volitans [red lionfish] and Pterois miles [devil firefish]), a researcher has discvovered that adults can move further than had been thought. Learn more at sciencedaily.org.

Preventing People from Abandoning Exotic Pets that Threaten Biodiversity
Abandoning exotic pets is an ethical problem that can lead to biological invasions that threaten conservation of biodiversity in the environment. Recent research in Spain reveals that the release of invasive species in the environment has not been reduced despite regulation that has prohibited the possession of these species since 2011. Learn more at sciencedaily.org.

Tornadoes, Windstorms Pave Way for Lasting Plant Invasions
When tornadoes touch down, they can cut through massive swaths of forest, destroying trees and wildlife habitat, and opening up opportunities for invasive species to gain ground. Read more at sciencedaily.org.

Garlic on Broccoli: A Smelly Approach to Repel a Major Pest
A new study offers a novel framework to test strategies for managing invasive pests. The study is the first to show how the similarity of plant odors and phylogenetic relatedness can predict insect repellency. Learn more at sciencedaily.org.

Picky Pathogens Help Non-Native Tree Species Invade
Trees have many natural enemies, including pathogens that have evolved to attack certain tree species. Invasive tree species -- even ones that are very closely related to native trees -- are often not attacked by these pathogens and thus can thrive. Learn more at sciencedaily.org.

Cane Toad Testes Smaller at the Invasion Front
Individuals at an invasion front may allocate most of their resources to dispersing rather than reproducing. In the invasive cane toad (Rhinella marina) in Australia, researchers report, invasion-front males have smaller testicles than do males in the range-core. Learn more at sciencedaily.org.

Invasive Parrots Have Varying Impacts on European Biodiversity, Citizens and Economy
Non-native parrots can cause substantial agricultural damage and threaten native biodiversity. A pan-European team of researchers, conservationists, wildlife managers and policy-makers worked together to conclude that measures to prevent parrots from invading new areas are paramount for limiting future harm. Read more at sciencedaily.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:

Saturday, August 10, 2019
Invaders of Texas Workshop
Location: Houston Advanced Research Center (The Woodlands, TX)
Contact: Teri MacArthur

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 (6 pm)
Sentinel Pest Network Workshop

Location: Martin Dies, Jr. State Park, 634 Park Road 48 S (Jasper, TX)
Contact: Lori Horne
(Registration not open yet.)

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