June 2019
Texasinvsives.org to Offer Invasive Species High School Curriculum Training Workshop for Teachers

July 16-17, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

This two-day workshop will introduce teachers to a curriculum designed around the issue of invasive species. Gain skills and knowledge to transform high school students into citizen scientists as they collect data on local invasive plant species. Developed by Texasinvasives.org (TI.org), the curriculum consists of four units with a total of eleven lessons covering basic information on invasive species: Mapping and GPS; invasive plant identification; training to collect data on invasive plants as TI.org’s Invaders of Texas citizen scientists; and a summative assessment. Lunch is provided.

The lessons will satisfy the TEKS 11th – 12th grade Environmental Science Section 112.37 (Environmental/Systems). CEU and ES credits are available.

Coming from out of town? Funding will be provided for up to 10 participants for up to two nights' lodging. But the deadline for applying for the funding is this Friday, July 5. Contact Kathy Hernandez at khernandez@wildflower.org for instructions.

Registration is $15. Space is limited and registration is required. Click here to register.

texasinvasives.org logo


Credit: https://toxicfreefuture.org/healthy-living/healthy-kids/champion-clean-air-in-the-classroom/

Public Gardens Working on Plan to Act as Sentinels Against Invasive Plants

For over a year, representatives from several public gardens and arboreta have been meeting as the Public Gardens as Sentinels against Invasive Plants (PGSIP) working group to devise a procedure by which public gardens can record and then share information from their gardens on potentially invasive plant species, i.e., species that are spreading from the intended cultivation locations at the gardens. The project was spearheaded by the Morton Arboretum and the Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN) and generously funded by the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center. Institutions currently participating in the PGSIP working group include: Cornell Botanic Gardens, Dawes Arboretum, Holden Arboretum, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Missouri Botanical Garden, Morton Arboretum, New York Botanical Garden, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Sustainable Conservation. Sharing this information among gardens and then with the public and the horticulture industry will help to prevent the introduction of new invasive plant species. You can read more on the project in an article in the May issue of the journal of the American Public Gardens Association, Public Garden (see page 12 of the file), and at MIPN's website.


APGA_dark logo

Governor Abbott Signs Bill Allowing The Hunting Of Feral Hogs Without License

Hunting feral hogs is now a little bit easier. As reported by News4SanAntonio, "Governor Abbott signed House Bill 317, which allows people to hunt feral hogs without a hunting license. The law, which was authored by Senator Bryan Hughes of Mineloa, was passed unanimously by the House and Senate before going to the governor's desk." This means out-of-state hunters no longer need a hunting license. The hope is that removing the licensing barrier will increase the likelihood that those hunters will help to reduce the number of the invasive destructive animals in our state. The law goes into effect on September 1.

feral hog Credit: TPWD

Invasive Parasite Ravaging Endangered Fish in San Marcos, Comal Rivers

As reported in the Austin American-Statesman, "Researchers at Texas State University say an invasive parasite that was likely introduced to the San Marcos and Comal rivers by aquarium dumpers is tearing a path through native fish species, and it could pose a threat to endangered species that call the rivers home."

The parasite, Haplorchis pumilio, was discovered in the two rivers in the early 2000s. In a tale of two invasives, it began spreading after an invasive Asian snail was introduced to the area, likely dumped in the water by local residents. Then in 2015, a student working with David Huffman, a parasitologist for Texas State University’s biology department, found that the parasite was infecting and killing endangered fountain darters (Etheostoma fonticola), which live only in the headwaters of the San Marcos and Comal rivers.

"Haplorchis pumilio larvae get into a fish’s skin and move into their jaws and fins, which causes the joints to stiffen, making swimming and feeding difficult.

"In experimental infections in the lab, researchers found that the parasite creates large blisters on the tail, which sometimes burst and kill the animal. But those effects are not seen in the wild because most infected fish die well before the infection gets to that level of severity.

"The parasite makes the fish easy targets for birds, which pick them out of the water."

Fountain darters.
Credit: TPWD

Comal Spring.
Credit: By Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3193806

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/.


Invasive Spotlight:
Soapberry Borer
(Agrilus prionurus)

A native of Mexico, the soapberry borer is a beetle that attacks western soapberry (Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii). Infested trees can be easily recognized by the exposed sapwood that results when birds and squirrels chip off the bark to feed on the larvae, leaving an accumulation of bark chips at the base of the tree. Infested trees die back from the top, and in response often produce many sprouts along the base of the trunk. Adults leave D-shaped exit holes when they emerge from the tree. Trees die within three years. The soapberry borer is now found in several counties in Texas.

The adult soapberry borer is about 1/2 to 1 inch long, shiny black, and distinctively marked with four small white spots on the wing covers. Larvae are flat-headed wood borers that may attain an inch in length as they mature. After feeding beneath the bark, the larvae bore into the wood to complete development and pupate.

Because of its negative impacts, the soapberry borer is a Report It! species as part of the Sentinel Pest Network, a component of Texasinvasives.org. Please report any infestations of soapberry borer you observe, particularly in counties not highlighted on the map to the right.

Follow this link for more information on the soapberry borer. Texas A&M Forest Service also has an informative webpage about the soapberry borer.

soapberry borer soapberryborer alert

Credit: Penny Crispin                       Ron Billings

soapberry borer bark damage

Credit: Ronald F. Billings, Texas A&M Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Soapberry Borer Distribution Map 2015

2015 distribution of the soapberry borer.

More News

Invasive Plants Threaten Our Lakes
The Dallas News published an informative article on aquatic invasive plants and the problems they cause in Texas. John Findeisen, who heads the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Team, describes different species and how his crew works to control them.

New Model Predicts Impact of Invasive Lionfish Predators on Coral Reefs
A new model is providing insight into the impact of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) on coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The venomous predatory fish has invaded more than 7.3 million square kilometers in the Atlantic and Caribbean, wreaking havoc among native fish populations. Read more at sciencedaily.com.

Nonnative Pear Trees Are Showing Up in US Forests
Once named "urban tree of the year", the Callery or Bradford pear tree (Pyrus calleryana) is starting to show up in many eastern forests. Once established, the invasive trees are hard to eradicate, a biologist warns. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Extreme Draining of Reservoir Aids Young Salmon and Eliminates Invasive Fish
A new study finds that the low-cost, extreme draining of a reservoir in Oregon aided downstream migration of juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) -- and led to the gradual disappearance of two species of predatory invasive fish in the artificial lake. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Native Plant Species May Be at Greater Risk from Climate Change than Non-Natives
Warming temperatures affect native and non-native flowering plants differently, which could change the look of local landscapes over time. Read more at sciencedaily.com.

Exotic Pets Can Become Pests with Risk of Invasion
Researchers present further insight into the dynamics of the exotic pet trade and the role it plays in the introduction of invasive vertebrate populations across the globe. Previously, surprisingly little was known about the economic, social, and ecological factors that shape the trade and how they influence the establishment of self-sustaining populations of non-native species. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Heat Kills Invasive Jumping Worm Cocoons, Could Help Limit Spread
Temperatures of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit kill the cocoons of invasive jumping worms (Amynthas spp.). That's good news for ecologists and horticulturalists who are working to slow or stop the spread of the worms, which can damage the soils they invade. Read more at sciencedaily.com.

Honeybees Infect Wild Bumblebees Through Shared Flowers
Viruses in managed honeybees (Apis mellifera) are spilling over to wild bumblebee populations though the shared use of flowers. New research suggests commercial apiaries may need to be kept away from areas where there are vulnerable native pollinator species, like the endangered rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis). Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Successful 'Alien' Bird Invasions Are Location Dependent
Whether 'alien' bird species thrive in a new habitat depends more on the environmental conditions than the population size or characteristics of the invading bird species. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Native Species' Fear of 'Killer Shrimp' Changes Their Behavior
The fear of invasive 'killer shrimp' (Dikerogammarus villosus) can intimidate native amphipods to such a degree that they are incapable of performing their vital role in river systems in Europe. Read more about this this example of the "non-consumptive effect" (NCE) of predators at sciencedaily.com.

Ash Dieback Is Predicted to Cost £15 Billion ($19 Billion) in Britain
A team of researchers calculated the true economic cost of ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus), a disease attacking ash trees in Great Britain -- and the predictions are staggering. 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 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

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