Recent Texas Flooding Causes Devastation, Has Implications for Invasives 

The recent record rains across Texas have brought a welcome end to the drought in Texas. However, they have also wrought tragic destruction and loss of life, along the Blanco River and in other places around the state. We are sure we speak for everyone involved in the battle to manage invasive species in the state when we send out our deepest sympathies to those who have lost property and especially loved ones.

The floods also have implications for managing invasive species, some good and some troubling. Troubling implications include the increased probability that various invasive species may spread, because their propagules have been carried downtream. Examples include flood overflow from flooded lakes infested with zebra mussels, and giant reed being swept from banksides and deposited downstream. A welcome efffect is the tremendous rises in lake levels seen in the Highland Lakes. Populations of saltcedar that took hold during the drought are now inundated and will die (see pictures to right).

Once the needs of the flood survivors are met, the process of determining the extent of the effects on invasive species will begin in earnest.

young saltcedar on Lake Buchanan 2014
Relatively young saltcedar on Lake Buchanan at Shaw Island last year.

saltcedar Lake Travis Late 2014
Saltcedar on Lake Travis late last year.
saltcedar flooded May 20, 2015
Saltcedar (mixed with Baccharis) partially inundated. On Pace Bend, Lake Travis, May 20, 2015. Lake was at 42% capacity, so these are likely covered with water now.
flooded salt cedar Lake Travis May 20, 2015
Partially inundated saltcedar on shore of Lake Travis, May 20, 2015. Lake was at 42% capacity, so these are covered with water now.

Photographer: Monica McGaritty, TPWD

Texas Launches New Zebra Mussel Public Awareness Campaign

From under the Loop 360 Bridge over the Colorado River in Austin, Texas Parks and Wildlife and its partners kicked off a $400,000 ad campaign to help save the Highland Lakes near Austin. The new campaign is designed to raise awareness among boaters and other water users about the threat posed by spreading zebra mussels. There will be more about this compaign in the next iWire.

Learn more at TWPD's website, and

Learn more about preventing zebra mussels at

Photo credits: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Invasive Spotlight:
Crested Floating Heart
(Nymphoides cristata)

Crested floating heart is a freshwater floating perennial. It has stolons (runners) that aggressively root. Most of its leaves float, and are somewhat heart-shaped with purplish undersides. It produces a 5-petaled white flower on a stalk. When it's not flowering it can be identified by its clusters of tuberous propagules that dangle from the node where the stem connects to the leaf.

As with many floating aquatics, crested floating heart will grow rapidly, covering the surface and shading out other aquatic plants and algae, disrupting the entire food web. As it dies and decomposes it can negatively impact water quality and other species.

It was intentionally introduced as an ornamental plant for water gardens and subsequently escaped. It is still widely available from on-line sellers. 

It can spread when fragments float to new locations. Control is difficult once established. Any attempt at physical or mechanical control will lead to fragments that will root, leading to further infestation. It has been found to be resistant to most herbicides, with those that affect it offering only temporary, somewhat effective control.

The best control method for controlling crested floating heart is preventing infestation in the first place. Water recreationsits should clean, drain and dry their boats, trailers, and equipment to prevent spreading this highly invasive species.

Follow this link to learn more about crested floating heart..


Photographer: Ann Murray. Source: University of Florida

NYCR map


Eat Your Enemy!

Feeling hungry? Here are two items about eating invasive species you may find interesting.  First, the Texas A&M Society for Ecological Restoration Student Association ended the semester with their traditional "Eat Your Enemy" potluck. Top dishes this year were: Exotic Earthworms and Dirt, German Cockroach Casserole, and Bastard Cabbage and Tropical Soda Apple Salad. (Society for Ecological Restoration, Texas Chapter Restoration Update, May, 2015 )

Second, has a cookbook for you: Lionfish Cookbook.  The title says it all.  Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) “is a grass-roots organization that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine enthusiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists.”  



Photo credit:
Plan Ahead: Invasive Species Field Trip at SER-Texas' Conference

The Texas Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration will be holding its annual conference November 13-15, 2015 at Trinity University, San Antonio. One of the field trips will be to Hixon Ranch where the focus will be on the management of buffelgrass and other non-native grasses. Please check their website for more information as conference plans develop: 2015 Conference Information

SERlogo 2

More News

Brazilian Pepper Tree Removal Focus of New Texas Gulf Coast Cooperative Weed Management Area
The Texas Gulf Coast Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) was established just last year by the City of Port Aransas and initial partners the Texas A&M Forest Service and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Its main focus is to address the problem of the Brazilian pepper tree in the Port Aransas area. View the video they produced describing their efforts to manage this invasive species.

National Trails Day
On June 6, 2015, Austin Parks Foundation, Hill Country Conservancy, and Texas Conservation Corps are partnering to host Austin's local National Trails Day (NTD), the American Hiking Society's nationwide trails awareness program. This year, in addition to trail work projects, there will also be several educational opportunities to take guided hikes at some of Austin's favorite and hidden trails. Come out and work to improve the trails, restore habitat by removing invasives, or come discover some of Austin's most beautiful places! Read more at Austin Parks website.

Glyphosate-resistant Weeds Risks High, Kudzu Reported in Colorado County
Herbicide-resistant invasive plant species can make control even more difficult.  For example, glyphosate-resistant water hemp and Palmer amaranth have become relatively widespread in Texas in recent years. The exceptionally wet fall, winter and now spring is causing concern for a high risk of spread. Recommendations for managing glyphosate resistant weeds are discussed in this article. In addition, kudzu has been reported in Colorado County. Read more at Southwest Farm Press.

Pest Invasion Likely Across Southwest
New Mexico State University entomologists say a combination of a wet winter and spring and the encroachment of new and varied invasive insect pests from surrounding states and Mexico could cause problems this year for agricultural producers across the Southwest, including risks to New Mexico's prized alfalfa and chile crops. Read more at Southwest Farm Press. 

The Monk Parakeet: Tracking an Invasive Bird
A new genetic study of introduced monk parakeet populations in the United States and Europe suggests they came from the same small area in Uruguay.  In addition, the populations unexpectedly have lower genetic diversity than the native populations.  The monk parakeet occurs in at least 14 US states, with the highest concentrations in Florida and Texas.  Read more at ScienceDaily.

Citizen Science and Technology Team Up to Wipe Out Weed in Australia
Citizen scientists are being recruited to examine images for the ornamental rubber vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora) from the area surrounding the Fitzroy River, in the Kimberley, Australia.  Pictures are taken from a helicopter, and with 350,000 images produced, it’s been a boon to have the citizen scientists assist by looking for the distinct white flowers in pictures posted online.  Read more at

Drones and Dogs Deployed in Battle to Save the Guacamole 
On subtropical farmland in South Florida, researchers are doing battle with the deadly fungus, laurel wilt, which is spread by a tiny beetle and has the potential to decimate Florida's avocado crop. Researchers and farmers are fighting to halt the fungus before it advances to California, where the avocado is king.  Its advance will take it through Texas. To find infected trees in groves, researchers are using drones and trained dogs. Read more at

Non-Native Grass Invasion, Prescribed Fires, Deadly Ecological Combination
Research in southern Indiana suggests that using prescribed fires to control stiltgrass can actually  increase the likelihood that this invasive species will remain.  Fires in stiltgrass-invaded areas can be more intense, killing native trees and therefore making the area better for the stiltgrass.  Read more at

South Carolina Gets Ready for The Return of Sugarcane Aphid
Sugarcane aphids, which also occur in Texas, were spotted in South Carolina for the first time in October, and Clemson University entomologists are preparing for their return this growing season. As their name implies, these insects usually eat sugarcane, but in 2013 they began eating grain sorghum and spread across the South. The U.S. EPA has approved the use of the pesticide Transform WG through Nov. 30. For more information, see this webpage.

US Forest Service Research Team Releases Bats Treated for WNS
A USDA Forest Service research team is cautiously optimistic about a new treatment for White-nose Syndrome (WNS). They recently released bats that had been successfully treated with volatile compounds isolated from soil bacteria.  Read more at

Culling Pest Animals Can Do More Harm Than Good
The usual response to problem pest animals is “culling”: killing or otherwise removing pest animals from wild populations with the aim of reducing their abundance and impact, or even eradicating them. But a recent study on feral cats in Tasmania shows that culling can backfire badly. Read more at  

APHIS Updates Its List of Regulated Areas for Emerald Ash Borer
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is adding all of New York and Dakota County in Minnesota to the list of regulated areas for the emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis. For more information see this notice on APHIS' website.

Research on Cogongrass Likely to Improve Exploration for Biological Controls
A research study on cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) using molecular genetics improves the likelihood of finding biological controls, and suggests its limited genetic diversity will limit its ability to evolve resistance. The research, a collaboration among several scientists from several institutions including the Texas A&M Forest Service, was published in a special issue of Molecular Ecology.  For more information see this article in the Online Library.

Moo-Ving Time: Mini Cattle Drive to Be Part of Boulder Oatgrass Fix
The Shanahan/National Center for Atmospheric Research, outside of Boulder, Colorado, has a problem with tall oatgrass, an invasive bunchgrass from Northern Europe. To control it, livestock will be put to work as a novel solution to a complex invasive species management challenge. Research involving cattle exclusion plots will be used to study the program’s effectiveness. To learn more, read this article at

UF/IFAS Extension Program To Control Tropical Soda Apple Earns National Award
UF/IFAS Extension Program’s program, which uses beetles to biologically control the Tropical Soda Apple (TSA) on St. Lucie County ranches, has won the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals National Innovative Program Award.

If you would like your invasive species event or news listed in the next 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.

Upcoming Workshops:

Saturday, August. 29, 2015
Location: Austin
Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 26, 2014
Location: Houston area?
Stay tuned!

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