US Department of Agriculture Shares Weed Risk Assessments

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) has developed a webpage with links to weed risk assessments it has completed. 

APHIS conducts weed risk assessments as part of its process for safeguarding U.S. agriculture and natural resources from weeds and invasive plants. The risk assessment is a science-based evaluation of the potential of a plant species to establish, spread, and cause harm to the United States. 

Learn more about APHIS weed risk assessments.

Photo credits: USDA APHIS PPQ Archive, USDA APHIS PPQ,
Task Force Releases Guidelines to Prevent the Release of Unwanted Live Educational Specimens 

New guidelines are now available for use by the public, agencies and organizations to promote practices that prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The guidelines, developed by national committees under the direction of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, provided standardized guidelines to prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species via disposal of unwanted live educational specimens (animals, plants, and microorganisms) into local waters.

Follow this link to read the guidelines at Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force.

Image credit: US Geological Survey Archive, US Geological Survey,

Invasive Spotlight:
Spotted Knapweed
(Centaurea stoebe ssp. micranthos)

Spotted knapweed is a biennial or short-lived perennial herbaceous plant from Eurasia that grows from 2-3' in height. Basal leaves form a rosette the first year from which grow 1-20 wiry, branched stems during the second year of life. 

This species threatens prairies, fields, dunes and areas with sandy soils. It spreads rapidly in transportation corridors, gravel pits, field margins and pastures. It has been shown to be phytotoxic, meaning it will kill other plant species where it grows. 

In the first state-wide find for this species, participants on a Native Plant Society of Texas field trip to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge found and identified the invasive plant. One day later, voucher specimens were collected and all plants were removed. 

Follow this link to learn more about spotted knapweed.
Photo credit: Craig Althen, WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
More News

Texas' Statewide Boat-draining Rules Takes Effect July 1
In order to prevent the further spread of invasive mussels in Texas, beginning July 1, boaters must drain all water from their boat and on-board receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water anywhere in Texas. The regulation requires draining of livewells, bilges, motors, and any other receptacles or water-intake systems coming into contact with public waters. Learn more at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Customs and Border Protection Stop Invasive Chinese Moth at Seaport
Customs and Border Protection agents in Baltimore recently made a first-in-the-nation pest discovery when inspecting a shipment of bulk soybeans from China. The moth, Nemapogon gersimovi, could pose a significant agricultural threat because it is known to feed on seeds and grains, reducing farmers' yields. Learn more at Entomology Today

Boat Inspectors in Oregon Stop Texas Houseboat Infested with Zebra Mussels
In June, Oregon invasive species teams prevented the first known introduction of invasive bivalves into the Pacific Northwest when they stopped a pontoon houseboat from Texas. Luckily, the adults were dead and juveniles were killed with hot water cleaning. Learn more at the Blue Mountain Eagle

Syracuse Projected to Lose Half of its Ash Trees to Emerald Ash Borer
Trees in the City of Syracuse, New York are facing a significant threat from the emerald ash borer. One thousand trees on City property will be cut down and one thousand will be injected with pesticide in an attempt to save the trees. Learn more at Syracuse News

Benefit Concert to Aid Giant Salvinia Weevil Production Greenhouse
The Greater Caddo Lake Association and partners held a benefit concert to raise money to support the Caddo Lake Salvinia Weevil Greenhouse Project, which is now under construction to raise weevils to biologically control invasive giant salvinia. Learn more at the Marshall News Messenger.   

Florida Has New Weapon Against Giant African Land Snail
Twp black labs, Raider and Bear, successfully completed a 10-week training program at a US Department of Agriculture training facility. The dogs will now begin service in Florida, sniffing out the giant African land snail. Learn more at Miami CBS Local. 

Commander Ben Trains New Invasive Hunters to Battle Invasive Species
At a recent Nature Nights event at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Commander Ben educated participants about the environmental damages of invasive plants. The invasive guru also taught them to recognize invasive species in their own communities and provided them with Invasive Hunter special tae kwon do moves to eliminate the incipient invaders. Learn more by visiting Commander Ben.  

Report Finds Wood Packaging Sanitation Yields $11.7 Billion Net Benefit
Invasive pests, such as the emerald ash borer, are expected to cause over a billion dollars in damages annually over the next decade. However, international standards requiring fumigation or heat treatment have been shown to reduce introductions and have a net benefit of 11.7 billion dollars. Learn more at  

Conservationists Advocate for the Consumption of Invasive Species
While recognizing that it is not a silver bullet, The Nature Conservancy of Texas and others are promoting the consumption of invasive species where possible. Edible species such as the lion fish or Himalayan blackberries can be a source of food that creates a better world through consumption. Learn more at  Savannah Morning News

If you would like your invasive species event or news listed in the next iWire, please send the details to

Citizen Scientists of the Month
Mitchell Lake Audubon

The Mitchell Lake Audubon became the 80th satellite group in the Invaders of Texas Citizen Scientist Program on May 31st in a workshop led by Cheryl Hamilton and Judith and Lonnie Shockley of the Balcones Invaders satellite. 

Newly trained volunteers have put their training to good use in identifying and mapping invasive plant species at the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. Identified locations will later be removed by Audubon staff and volunteers. 

Great start Mitchell Lake Audubon, welcome to the program!

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 include information on the Sentinel Pest Network which serves to increase the awareness of early detection of 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.

We have funding from USDA APHIS and the Texas A&M Forest Service for more workshops in the upcoming months, so schedule your free workshop, today!

Upcoming Workshops:

Thursday, July 17, 2014
Location: University of Texas Marine Science Institute (Port Aransas, TX)
Contact: Katie Swanson

Saturday, September 27, 2014
Location: River Legacy Living Science Center (Arlington, TX)
Contact: Registrar

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