2014 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference Recap

The fifth annual Texas Invasive Plant and Pest conference was a huge success! 

Prior to the conference, 75 attendees and community members worked together to control and remove invasive Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius) at the City of Port Aransas Charlie's Pasture Nature Preserve. 

The professional level conference, co-hosted by the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute and the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species featured over 39 speakers. Sessions were held concurrently and focused on topics such as Leadership and Coordination, Early Detection and Rapid Response, Control and Management, Research, and Education and Public Awareness.

Conference participants also toured the City of Port Aransas to view the impacts of Brazilian peppertree, visited the Marine Science Institute Wetlands Education Center and toured the Research Vessel Katy, bird watched at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, or attended an Invaders of Texas Citizen Science Program Train-the-Trainer workshop.

Learn more about the 2014 TIPPC Conference or read a full conference recap from Commander Ben, the 2014 Citizen Scientist of the Year.

Photo credits: Rob Billings, Texas A&M Forest Service
Partnerships Help Battle Invasive Species Across Nation

The damage done by invasive plant species alone is estimated to cost the United States $34.7 billion dollars a year. Invasive species partnerships are the front lines to protect the agriculture and the U.S. food supply. 

Increasingly, invasive species partnerships are bringing together interested citizens, academia, government agencies and non-profit organizations to collaborate and solve invasive species issues that cross borders and harm our national economy. 

View a special video report on invasive species partnerships and their role in protecting American agriculture by Rural Free Delivery-TV

For more information on invasive species partnerships in Texas, visit Texasinvasives.org.

National Cooperative
Weed Management Area Map

Invasive Spotlight:
Bastard Cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum)

Bastard cabbage is native to the Mediterranean, northern Africa, central Europe and temperate Asia. This species was introduced through contaminated seed mixes. It is an annual herbaceous plant that grows from 1 to 5 feet in height and has a large taproot. Leaves are deep green, lobed, wrinkled and can have a reddish cast. 

Bastard cabbage flowers from early spring into summer, bearing clusters of small, showy yellow flowers at the tips of its branches. Seeds from this plant germinate early in the growing season and quickly establish a blanket of leafy rosettes forming a monoculture. The dense patches easily outcompete seeds and seedlings of native plants, especially the beloved bluebonnet.

To learn more and watch a short video about the impact of bastard cabbage in Texas, follow the link to view the Plant Avengers - Ecosystem's Mightiest Heroes by Commander Ben

Follow this link to learn more about this species.

Photo credit: Katherine Bedrich, El Camino Real Invaders
More News

Crazy Ants Dominate Fire Ants By Neutralizing Their Venom
Invasive tawny crazy ants are rapidly displacing fire ants across Texas and the southeastern United States. New research from the University of Texas at Austin shows that the crazy ant secretes a compound that neutralizes the fire ant venom. Read more and watch a video at the University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences.

Parks and Wildlife Department Adds 30 Additional Counties to Rules Requiring Cleaning
Effective Sunday, March 23rd, 30 additional counties in North and Central Texas have been added to the recently implemented rules requiring all boats operating on public waters to be cleaned and drained after use to prevent spreading zebra mussels. Read more at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 

Florida Officials Give Up On Evicting Pythons From Everglades
A cautionary tale from the State of Florida is a good reminder not to set your pet "free" into the environment. Invasive pythons, likely released by well-meaning owners have been wreaking havoc on the ecosystems of the Everglades by preying on birds, small mammals and other species. After approving the Python Challenge in 2013, state officials have realized that eradication of these invasive predators may not be likely. Read more in The Washington Post.

An Exciting New Tool For Combating Zebra Mussels
Zebra mussels have caused massive problems in the Great Lakes and Texas. Now, a new product has been developed which could be an eco-friendly solution to controlling the species. Researchers at the State University of New York at Albany created a bacterium that can be processed into a product that controls zebra and quagga mussels at all life stages. Read more in StateImpact Texas.  

Bring Nature Home at Native Plant Society of Texas Spring Symposium
Dr. Douglas Talamy, author of the best-selling book Bringing Nature Home; How Native Plant Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens will be the keynote speaker at the Native Plant Society spring symposium in Austin, Texas on April 18th at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Dr. Talamy will speak about the benefits of native plants in sustaining home ecosystems. Read more at the Native Plant Society of Texas.

University of Florida Seeks Extension Invasive Plant Management Specialist
The Agronomy Department at the University of Florida is seeking applicants for a faculty position focusing on aquatic and natural area invasive plants. The position will be located at the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, where there are extensive greenhouse, laboratory and field facilities. Learn more by visiting Jobs at University of Florida.

March is the Right Time to Search for Emerald Ash Borer
As emerald ash borer traps are set across the State of Texas, it is a good time to be looking for this exotic pest. Residents are reminded to be aware of tree damages, including woodpecker damage, bark cracks and D-shaped exit holes. Read more about the fight in Minnesota in the Minnesota Farm Guide. To learn more or report a suspected infestation in Texas, please Report It.

Texas Boat Carrying Invasive Mussels Intercepted at Canadian Border
Canadian customs officers in Osoyoos recently discovered invasive mussels on a boat being transported into Canada that originated in Texas. While customs authorities have no regulatory ability to enforce to refuse entry, the commercial transporter agreed to be cooperative. The boat was later decontaminated by conservation officers the following day. Read more at the Kelowna Capital News. (Note: Our investigation determined that the boat was previously owned by a Texan, but the boat had been stored at a lake in Arizona where it picked up the invasive mussels.)

Weeds Across Borders Call For Abstracts
The Weeds Across Borders organization is now accepting abstracts for forum speakers at the 2014 conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on October 15th and 16th. Weeds Across Borders is an international conference for professionals and agencies from across North America with a common interest in sharing information and improving the management of invasive species. Please note, the deadline is March 30, 2014, for more information please visit the Call for Abstracts here.

Sri Lankan Troops Battle Ragweed Parthenium
‚ÄčParthenium hysterophorus, an introduced species also present in Texas is under attack by Sri Lankan military troops and the local community. According to the Army, the plant was introduced inadvertently by Indian peace keeping forces in 1987 and has since spread to occupy more than 700 acres. Read more at ColomboPage

Weeding out Weed? Washington State Farmers Worry About Cannabis
Washington State legalized recreational marijuana in 2013 but farmers now worry about the cultivated crop escaping into adjacent farmlands. To address this concern, the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board, which regulates highly damaging invasive plant species, discussed regulating escaped marijuana. Read more in The Spokesman-Review

Invasive Worms Threaten French Escargot
The New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari) has been listed as one of the 100 most dangerous invasive species worldwide and has now been found in France. Researchers theorize that the flatworm hitched a ride to Europe on a plant. The flatworm naturally preys on insects, earthworms and it's preferred meal--the snail. Officials are worried about the potential loss of all snails in Europe. Read more at National Public Radio

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

Citizen Scientist of the Month
Balcones Invaders

Since it was started in 2010, the Balcones Invaders have been one of the most active Invaders of Texas Citizen Scientist Program satellite groups. The group was recognized as Satellite of the Year in 2011 by the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council.  Over the past four years, the Balcones satellite has contributed over 700 hours to reporting 1,284 invasive plant observations.

The group has also spent 3,700 volunteer hours to eradicate 22,000 invasive plants, and contributed more than 50 educational articles to newsletters and journals.

Balcones Invaders satellite members are trained to lead their own Invaders of Texas citizen science workshops and have trained 86 citizen scientists at 7 events.

When asked what drives their success, Team Leader, Cheryl Hamilton reports that the "driving forces behind their success include team camaraderie, persistence and a commitment to restoring habitats." 

Keep up the great work Balcones Invaders!

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 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 Texasinvasives.org designed to help organize and track volunteer-based eradication efforts.

Upcoming Workshops:

Thursday, April 10, 2014
Location: Inks Dam Fish Hatchery (Burnet, TX)
Contact: Billy Hutson

Saturday, May 17, 2014
Location: University of Texas Winedale Historical Complex (Round Top, TX)
Contact: Judith Deaton

Saturday, May 31, 2014
Location: Mitchell Lake Audubon Center (San Antonio, TX)
Contact: Paul Pruitt

Saturday, June 6. 2014
Location: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Austin, TX)
Contact: Audrey Ambrose

Saturday, June 14, 2014
Location: Collins Academy (Jefferson, TX)
Contact: Vanessa Adams

Wednesday, 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.