May 2016

ALERT! Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Texas

It was bound to happen, and unfortunately it finally has: the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has made its way to Texas. This invasive wood-boring beetle from Asia has been decimating ash trees in the Northeast and Midwest, causing millions of dollars in damage. Expecting it to arrive in Texas, a trapping and sentinel program has been in place to keep a watch out for the beetle, run by the Texas A&M Forest Service and U. S. Forest Service and including the Sentinel Pest Network of In April, the strategy paid off, as four beetles were trapped in Harrison County just south of Karnack in northeast Texas. Earlier this month, lab work by the USDA-APHIS confirmed their identity. Importantly, no ash trees have been found to be infested.

All 16 species of ash found in the United States are susceptible to the emerald ash borer; seven of them occur in Texas. The beetles lay eggs on the bark, and the larvae bore through the bark and feed under the bark, eventually killing the tree. Since it was discovered in Michigan in 2002, it has spread to 26 states, including Arkansas and Louisiana. "We are the 26th member of a club nobody wants to belong to," said Shane Harrington, forest health coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Read the Houston Chronicle article, and for more information see the TA&MFS website on the emerald ash borer.

emerald ash borer

Photo credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University.


Photo credit: Pennsylvania DCNR

ALERT! Laurel Wilt Disease Confirmed in Additional Texas County

Laurel wilt (Raffaelea lauricola) has been confirmed in Tyler County, expanding the number of counties in Texas to three. The other two are neighbors of Tyler County: Jasper and Hardin Counties. The disease attacks members of the Laurel family such as redbay, sassafras, and avocados. It is spread by the redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus), a wood boring beetle that is also invasive. (See article in the More News section below about laurel wilt in Florida.) The USDA map of the full distribution of laurel wilt in the United States is here.

The Florida Forest Service has information on identifying laurel wilt, and for more information on the redbay ambrosia beetle, see the information at

Because of its negative impacts, the redbay ambrosia beetle is a Report It! species as part of the Sentinel Pest Network (a component of If you believe you have found a redbay ambrosia beetle, or an infested plant, please report this species. If you believe you have found redbay, sassafras, avocado, or other laurels infected with laurel wilt, please contact your local Texas A&M Forest Service or AgriLife agent as soon as possible!

redbay ambrosia beetle

Photo credit: Michael C. Thomas Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

laurel wilt disease in TX


Photo credit: Michael C. Thomas Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

TPWD Helps Landowners Control Giant Reed

As part of a broader statewide effort made possible by a record $6.6 million approved by the Texas Legislature to control invasive aquatic species, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Healthy Creeks Initiative helps Hill Country landowners to control giant cane, also known as Carrizo cane (Arundo donax). This invasive plant can impair aquatic ecosystems, including those that are home to imperiled fishes such as Texas’ State Fish, the Guadalupe Bass. “To fight the problem, TPWD and various partners are teaming up with riverside landowners threatened by Arundo to bring a multi-faceted approach for effective, targeted management of the giant cane infestation to the upper Pedernales River, as well as to areas on the Blanco River,” according to FOXSanAntonio.

If you live along the Pedernales or Blanco Rivers and would like the TPWD to examine Arundo on your property, please send an email to Healthy Creeks.


Credit: Emily Stevenson, Invaders of Texas

Invasive Spotlight:
Japanese Climbing Fern
(Lygodium japonicum)

Japanese climbing fern is an invasive climbing fern that is changing the landscape of East Texas. An ornamental that is native to Asia and tropical Australia and was introduced from Japan in 1930s, it has escaped and is now rapidly spreading across the forested areas of Eastern Texas, smothering native trees and shrubs. Not only does it impact native vegetation directly, but it is also a significant fire hazard: the dead fern fronds serve as a fire ladder to carry fire to the crown of trees. It occurs in at least 25 East Texas counties.

Japanese climbing fern is a perennial viney fern, climbing and twining, to 90 feet (30 m) long, with lacy, finely divided leaves along green to orange to black wiry vines. It can form mats of shrub- and tree-covering infestations. Tan-brown fronds persist in winter, while others remain green if warm enough. Its vines arise from underground, widely creeping rhizomes that are slender, black, and wiry. As a fern, this invasive plant reproduces via spores. The spores can be carried miles by the wind, easily spreading the fern. It occurs along highway rights-of-way, especially under and around bridges, and invades open forests, forest road edges, and stream and swamp margins.

Because of its negative impacts, Japanese climbing fern is a Report It! species as part of the Sentinel Pest Network, a component of Please report any infestations of Japanese climbing fern you observe, particularly in counties not highlighted on this distribution map (click on Texas to see county map).

Follow this link for more information on the Japanese climbing fern.


Source: Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society


Photo credit:

JapClimbFern_map 2

EDDMapS. 2016. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Available online at; last accessed May 31, 2016.

More News

Quarantine Areas for the Mexican Fruit Fly Established in Texas
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has established two quarantine areas in Texas for the Mexican fruit fly (Anastrepha ludens). The first, effective April 22, affects the Rio Hondo area of Cameron and Willacy counties in Texas, and the second, effective April 25, affects the Encantada area of Cameron County. APHIS is applying safeguarding measures and restrictions on the interstate movement or entry into foreign trade of regulated articles from these areas. See this page for more information, including a link to the APHIS site listing all the quarantine areas in Texas.

All But Six Counties In Florida Now Report Laurel Wilt, A Pest of Avocado
Laurel wilt (Raffaelea lauricola) is a fungal pathogen of laurels (including redbay), avocado and sassafras. As a pest of avocado, it has economic as well as ecological impacts. The redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus), a wood-boring beetle, spreads the disease. Much of the spread through Florida has been at the expense of residential avocado trees. The beetle and the disease threaten Texas, as well, including its avocado business. Read more.

Wasp to Be Released in Battle Against Emerald Ash Borer
A Russian wasp, Spathius galinae, has been approved by USDA-APHIS for release to fight the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). The parasitoid wasp has been studied extensively to determine whether it will attack any other species, and has been found to be host-specific to the emerald ash borer (EAB). Being stingless, there should be no fears among people in the areas where it will be released. Read more. For information on the four insect biocontrol agents approved for release, see the Emerald Ash Borer Biological Control Release and Recovery Guidelines.

Girdling Ash Trees May Help Decrease Spread of the Emerald Ash Borer
A study published in the recent issue of the scientific journal Forest Ecology and Management considered the rate of spread of emerald ash borer in Michigan. The study concluded that EAB spread up to 1.7 km per year, depending on conditions. It also found that girdling ash trees was effective in slowing EAB spread, but injecting an insecticide into trees did not. Read more.

Imported Forest Pest Species Subject of Study
Scientists from Harvard Forest, the USDA Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Dartmouth College, McGill University, and Michigan State published a report in the journal Ecological Applications detailing their analysis of the impacts of and possible solutions to imported forest pests in the United States. They estimate that forest pests cause more than $2 billion worth of damage each year, with the brunt of that cost borne by municipalities and homeowners. Suggested policy changes would shift the cost back to importers and shippers and reduce the likelihood of the introduction of new alien pest species. Learn more.

Invasive Aphid Species Found in South Carolina for the First Time
A rare, invasive aphid has been found in South Carolina for the first time. Originally introduced in California and since found in Georgia and Alabama, Sipha maydis was found attacking wheat crops. Learn more.

Food Preferences of Deer May Promote Non-native Plants
When given a choice among eight nonnative and seven native plant species, captive white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) ate more native plant biomass than nonnative. In addition, the deer showed preferences among the species, finding some nonnative as well as native species palatable. There preferences may promote the spread of some nonnative species. Learn more.

Dealing with the “Unstoppable” Spread of Sudden Oak Death
Using modeling, researchers at the University of Cambridge (UK) have concluded that it is now impossible to stop the spread of sudden oak death (SOD) in California. SOD is caused by the fungus-like pathogen Phytophthora ramorum. It can infect over 100 species of tree and shrub, has spread to England, and there is concern it will spread to the Appalachian Mountains. The researchers provide suggestions for addressing future similar kinds of infestations as well as the current SOD infestation. Learn more.

Human-eating Nile Crocodile Found in Florida
“Spotting native alligators and crocodiles in Florida is common, but anyone who sees a large reptile may want to take a second look -- human-eaters that can grow to 18 feet long and weigh as much as a small car have been found in the Sunshine State.” Using DNA analysis, University of Florida researchers have confirmed that several Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) have been discovered in Florida. Read more.

Warming Antarctic Marine Waters Susceptible to Invasion By Northern Marine Organisms
It is known that many species of marine organisms from warmer northern waters can make it to Antarctica waters, such as by floating in kelp rafts, but normally they die in the cold. Global warming and the concomitant warming of the Antarctic ocean waters, however, are making it more likely that these northern species will be able to invade. Read more.

Invasive Plants One of Several Threats Facing Traditional Basketweavers
Traditional basketmakers rely on native plants for raw material. They also often rely on access to natural populations of these native plants. In some cases, non-native invasive species are replacing their traditional sources, making it difficult for them to continue to practice their craft. This article also discusses other threats to their craft.

Cities Work to Remove Invasives and Improve Native Landscapes
This article describes ways that cities are facing threats from invasive plants and working to deal with those threats to improve native landscapes. For example, Washington, D.C. handed out packets of native seed, and San Francisco is working on an innovative plan to restore native plants to the Presidio. Surveys discussed in the article revealed some interesting and promising results regarding home gardeners and their perceptions about invasive plants. Read more.

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

Upcoming Workshops:

Stay tuned!

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