June 2020
Emerald Ash Borer Discovered in Denton

A news article in The Denton Record-Chronicle reports that the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has been found in Denton. This represents the second known infestation of the destructive invasive beetle in Texas. Haywood Morgan, the city’s urban forester, made the discovery. He found what looked like emerald ash borer (EAB) larval galleries in ash trees and has sent an adult specimen to experts to be identified. All indications are that this is indeed an EAB infestation.

If you think you've found EAB, please immediately report them, and contact your local AgriLife Extension agent, Texas A&M Forest Service agent, and/or city arborist.


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Credit: Howard Russell, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Campaign Reminds Boaters to "Clean, Drain, Dry"

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) believes a key part of effective aquatic invasive species management is outreach and prevention. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is certainly true when it comes to aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) that are threatening Texas lakes. Anything that can be done now to slow or stop them will be much more cost effective than the management and mitigation that would have to happen if a lake becomes infested.

To this end, TPWD and a coalition of partners have once again invested in a spring and summer public awareness campaign aimed at motivating boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats when traveling from lake to lake. Paid media launched in late April with video ads about how to properly clean, drain and dry running on YouTube. In late May, 55 billboards will go up around the state, and in June, ads will be posted at 94 gas stations nearby key lakes.

The campaign targets boaters at highest risk for transporting invasive species from lake to lake and those utilizing key thoroughfares between infested and non-infested lakes. The primary message urges boaters, “Protect the Lakes You Love. Clean, drain and dry to stop invasive species.” This messaging was informed by focus groups with boaters and connects boaters’ love of the lake experience with their sense of responsibility to care for the lakes.

A survey conducted of boaters last summer showed that 91% of boaters who recently used a lake with zebra mussels or giant salvinia have heard or seen “Clean, Drain and Dry” and 87% report ALWAYS practicing “Clean, Drain and Dry” before going to another lake. This year’s campaign will continue to build on that awareness and action. Businesses and organizations that interact with boaters are encouraged to join the effort by helping distribute informational materials such as brochures and rack cards or even free giveaway items like koozies, shammies and fishing rulers. Materials can be ordered online.



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San Antonio River Draining Targets Invasive Snail

In January, the San Antonio River Authority drained the San Antonio River along a 3-mile stretch in San Antonio to, among other things, remove the invasive South American apple snail (Pomacea maculata). Fifty of the snails were removed on one day. The snails were first found in the river stretch the previous October.

In addition, non-native fish such as blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus) and suckermouth catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus, aka pleco) were also removed.

Apple snails are voracious feeders on aquatic vegetation that is important habitat for native aquatic species. They can also carry a parasitic worm that can cause meningitis in humans.

If you find apple snails or their pink egg cases, please report them here. You can also report the snails or their eggs, plecos, or blue tilapia to aquaticinvasives@tpwd.texas.gov.

For more information on apple snails, see the apple snail's profile at Texasinvasives.org.
For more information on plecos, see the suckermouth catfish's profile at Texasinvasives.org.



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Credit: wwltv.com

Scientists Find Genes to Save Ash Trees from Deadly Beetle

An international team of scientists has identified candidate resistance genes that could protect ash trees from the emerald ash borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis). The researchers found 53 candidate resistance genes, several of which are involved in making chemicals that are likely to be harmful to insects, by searching for places within the genomes of different ash species where the resistant species were similar, but showed differences from their susceptible relatives.

Dr. Laura Kelly, an academic visitor at Queen Mary University of London , Research Leader in Plant Health at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and first author of the study, said: "Ash trees are key components of temperate forest ecosystems and the damage caused by EAB also puts at risk the many benefits that these forests provide. Our findings suggest that it may be possible to increase resistance in susceptible species of ash via hybrid breeding with their resistant relatives or through gene editing. Knowledge of genes involved in resistance will also help efforts to identify trees that are able to survive the ongoing threat from EAB, and in turn, could facilitate restoration of ash woodlands in areas which have already been invaded." In addition, the compounds coded by the genes may include some that could be used as insecticides or perhaps repellents. Learn more at Science Daily.



EAB adult
Credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Invasive Species Becomes a Hot Commodity for Low-Carbon Supply Chains

"[D]esigners and manufacturers alike are seeking alternative materials to create buildings and structures for which After Architecture founders Katie MacDonald, Assoc. AIA, and Kyle Schumann have coined the term 'ecology-positive.' The Knoxville, Tenn.–duo has set its sights on a byproduct of sustainable forestry and ecological restoration: invasive plants.

"By developing architectural uses for nonnative species and timber thinnings … MacDonald and Schumann believe the building industry can wean off carbon-intensive materials, such as concrete, steel, and aluminum, while creating mutually beneficial supply chains.

Last fall, MacDonald and Schumann led a University of Tennessee, Knoxville studio that explored the use of regional invasive species as building material. Working with experts to identify the most widespread and destructive nonnative species, their students developed fabrication techniques and structural systems that take advantage of the plants’ behavioral, chemical, and aesthetic properties ...”

Learn more in this article in Architecture Magazine.



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Bradford pear, one of the invasive plants used as experimental building material. Credit: Dan Tenaglia, Missouriplants.com, Bugwood.org

Information on the "Murder Hornets" Newly Discovered in the Pacific NW

I'm sure you've heard about the "murder hornet" being discovered in the Pacific Northwest, because, well, with a name like "murder hornet", of course the news was plastered all over the media. These Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia), the world's largest, feed on honeybees during certain times of the year and can destroy a whole hive within several hours. Their sting can be dangerous mostly because being large, the hornets inject more venom than the typical wasp you might encounter. How dangerous depends on how often you are stung (like other wasps and hornets and unlike bees, they have unbarbed stingers and so can sting repeatedly) and how allergic you are to the venom.

A hive was found and destroyed in British Columbia late last summer, just over the border from Washington state. The individual adults reported in the news were found late last year in Washington, near where the hive was found. Officials are continuing to monitor for them and are enlisting citizens to keep an eye out for them.

This article and this webinar provide excellent information on the hornets and their discovery. This article provides more perspective on the hornet's probably limited potential for harm in North America.

In the meantime, a bill has been introduced to Congress to provide funding to states for eradicating the hornets.



Asian giant hornet
Credit: Shin.T / Getty Images via NBC News

PlayCleanGo Awareness Week

The second annual PlayCleanGo Awareness Week will be held June 6-13, 2020 across North America. The goal of the campaign is to show outdoor enthusiasts how they can stop invasive plants and pests from spreading — while enjoying the great outdoors. Last year's event reached over 500,000 individuals with the PlayCleanGo message. Dozens of free materials are available on this webpage to help you spread the word and "Stop Invasive Species In Your Tracks"!


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Registration for AIS Management Course Open

Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Research Center has opened registration for their AIS Management 101 course, which is designed to inform lakeshore homeowners, lake association members, and others interested in AIS management strategies. They are also offering a $25 discount. This online-only course is open to anyone, including those outside of Minnesota.

Topics covered during this course include AIS control and aquatic plant management, pesticides, non-chemical treatment options, and evaluating and understanding management outcomes. (Note their coverage of state regulations necessarily do not apply to Texas.) Register and more information.



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National Wild Pig Task Force – Virtual Conference

The NWPTF cordially invites you to participate in its “2020 Virtual Wild Pig Conference” where pre-recorded presentations of their wild pig speakers will be available for viewing beginning June 1, 2020. Get FREE access to wild pig presentations, workshops, and plenary sessions! Register here.



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North American Invasive Species Management Association Training Webinars

The program is designed to provide the education needed for professionals and students who are managing or learning to manage invasive species. The courses include the most current invasive species identification, control and management techniques and how to comply with local and federal regulations.

Participants may register and enroll at any time and will receive a certificate of invasive species management from NAISMA upon completion of the program.

All live webinars are open to the public. Recorded webinars are available to members of NAISMA.

NAISMA 2020 Webinar Schedule:

  • June 17 – Forest Eidbo, Minnesota DNR: Making educational signage that people actually read, according to the experts – REGISTER
  • July 15 – Gary Lovett, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Science: Invasive forest pests in the U.S.: Impacts and policy solutions – REGISTER
  • August 19 – How biocontrol agents are approved and how to access them for your invasive species management needs (go to NAISMA 2020 Webinar Schedule page to register.
  • September 16 – Leaps and Bounds – How to jump over the barriers to preventing the spread of invasive species – REGISTER



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Invasive Spotlight:
Onionweed
(
Asphodelus fistulosus)

Onionweed is a perennial herbaceous plant with leaves that resemble, as its name implies, onions or scallions: long, smooth, cylindrical, and hollow. However, they neither smell nor taste like onions. The numerous leaves are dark green and grow 12 to 30 inches tall from the base of the plant and spread to 15 inches wide. Onionweed produces one to several stiff upright, branched flower stem(s) up to 2.5 feet tall. The flowers alternate along the branches and are about three-fourths of an inch across with six petal parts, each white to pink with a brown or reddish stripe along the center. Fruits are spherical capsules divided into three segments. Seeds are brown or black, triangular, one-eighth inch long, wrinkled, pitted and three or six per fruit. The thick root crowns have many fibrous roots and no developed bulb.

Onionweed is native to the Mediterranean area and from western Asia to India. It was introduced in the United States as an ornamental. It is an aggressive invasive, seeding prolifically and spreading relatively rapidly. It excludes grasses and desirable forbs.

Because onionweed infestations pose a serious risk to ecosystems as well as agriculture, it is currently on the Federal and the Texas Department of Agriculture noxious weed lists. It is also one of the “Dirty Dozen” pest species identified by the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council. Therefore, it is one of the “Report It!” alert species on the Texasinvasives.org website and reporting app.

Onionweed has occasionally been found in Texas, but there have not been any reported infestations. Let's keep it that way! If you believe you have found onionweed, please report this species.

Follow this link for more information on onionweed.


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Source: USDA APHIS PPQ - Oxford, North Carolina , USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

onionweed flowers

Credit: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

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More News

NAISMA Publishes Position Statement on Transportation Funding of Invasive Species Management
Transportation infrastructure and corridors provide numerous opportunities for the movement of invasive plants. This position paper from the North American Invasive Species Management Association Legislative Committee supports the creation of a grant program under Section 1528 (Invasive plant elimination program) of Senate File 2302 – America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019. Read more at www.naisma.org.

Georgia Officials Are Asking the Public to Help Them Track Tegu Lizards
The Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae) is posing a real threat to Georgia wildlife. The lizard, which can grow up to about 4 feet long, has established itself in southeast Georgia as an invasive species. Learn more at cnn.com and fox5atlanta.com.

Cost of a Quagga and Zebra Mussel Infestation in Montana
A report prepared by the Montana Department of Natural Resources states that a worst-case scenario invasion of quagga and zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and D. bugensis, respectively) would cost Montana an estimated $234 million per year in damages to the Montana economy. Learn more at the Char-koosta News.

Coronavirus Concerns End Boat Inspections in Utah
Lake Powell boaters that are potential vectors for invasive mussels already infesting Utah’s largest lake are not being fully inspected or decontaminated as a result of efforts to decrease the spread of the coronavirus. The suspension in Utah’s main defense against the spread of quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) occurs just as boating season shifts into gear. Read more at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Washington State Declares Emergency Over Invasive Gypsy Moths
Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation in which he said the state was at risk from both Asian gypsy moths (Lymantria umbrosa) and Asian-European hybrid gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar L). To prevent an infestation, the proclamation authorized the aerial spraying of a pesticide containing the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk). Read more at EcoWatch.com.

Balancing Impacts of Range-Shifting Species: Invasives vs. Biodiversity
Conservation ecologists recognize that as climate change occurs, species will likely move to higher latitudes and elevations, and helping them do so may be necessary to prevent their extinction. On the other hand, these species will be moving into new ranges and may harm the ecosystems they move into, like an invasive species. Promoting biodiversity needs more discussion of these competing processes. Learn more at sciencedaily.com and wildlife.org.

Engaging Pet Trade Important in Stopping Invasives
Because released and escaped exotic pets are a big contributor to the establishment of invasive species in Florida, researchers found engaging and gaining the trust of the owners of exotic pets is important in stopping these invasions. "Florida and Texas are heavily looked at in the pet trade because of the conducive climate for invasive species,” said Diane Episcopio-Sturgeon, a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. Learn more at wildlife.org.

Invasive Mud Snail Plays Role in Fate of Mercury Pollution in Colorado River, Grand Canyon
A recent study that merged ecological and ecotoxicological techniques investigated how mercury flows through aquatic food webs and then spreads to land. A prominent player is the invasive New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum). Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Invasive Lionfish Likely to Become Permanent Residents in the Mediterranean
A team of international scientists has shown the lionfish (Pterois miles), first seen off the coast of Cyprus in 2012, is now thriving and well-established right across southern Europe. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.

Cannibalism Helps Invading Comb Jelly Survive Severe Conditions
Researchers show how cannibalismof offspring among the invasive comb jelly (Mnemiopsis leidyi) enables adults to survive severe conditions at the edge of their ecological range. Learn more at sciencedaily.com.


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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 Workshops

Invaders of Texas workshops train volunteers to detect and report invasive species as citizen scientists. Workshops, which are free, are designed to introduce participants to invasive species and the problems they cause, cover aspects of invasive species management, and teach identification of local invasive plants, and to train participants to report invasive plants using the TX Invaders mobile application. The workshop is 7 hours long (usually on a Saturday, but scheduling is arranged with each individual host group). The workshop satisfies Master Naturalist training requirements.

Sentinel Pest Network workshops serve to increase the awareness and early detection of a set of particularly important invasive species, to help prevent their spread into Texas or their further spread within Texas. Participants learn to identify species such as the Emerald Ash Borer, Cactus Moth, Asian Longhorned Beetle, and other pests of regulatory significance, and to report them. The workshop is 3.5 hours long. The workshop satisfies Master Naturalist training requirements.

Upcoming Workshops:

  --- None scheduled.

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