Archive for May, 2011

The Scourge of Fire Ants

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

[Fire ant stridulations]

Know what that is? It’s the sound of the imported red fire ant. An unfortunate truth about these invaders: they’re usually active when you want to be outdoors the most.

08—We typically see most activity in the spring and in the fall. It’s nice, and that’s generally when we like being outside, too, unfortunately.

Elizabeth “Wizzie” Brown is an entomologist with AgriLife Extension, working in Travis County. Native to South America, and introduced accidentally into the U.S. around the 1930s through the port of Mobile, Alabama, the red imported fire ant arrived in Texas in the 1950s.

Brown says researchers have been working to develop ways to manage this invasive exotic pest.

29—We have had things that we’re working on…things like fungus, and there’s organisms that live in the fire ant body that reduce the reproductive capabilities of the fire ants. They have brought in parasitizing flies, that are called phorid flies that they use that attack the fire ants and pretty much eat them from the inside out. So we are working on it, but the fire ants are here—they’re always going to be here; these are just tools in our tool belts to help up manage those populations.

Tomorrow, which homemade fire ant treatments—if any—work to control the pest.

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Texas Outdoor Families in State Parks

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

If you’ve spent more time in front of a computer than a campfire, and want to change that for yourself and your kids—The Texas Outdoor Family Program can help. Bryan Frazier has details.

Up to six people for a weekend, for $65, can learn basic outdoor skills: how to pitch a tent, build a campfire—do all of those things that make those outdoor experiences so great. Things that maybe we did a generation or two ago, that have kind of gotten lost. And so we’ve got expert guides that will help you and teach you all of these basic outdoor skills—for you and everybody who’s with you—up to six people. Check our calendar for the Texas Outdoor Families. And it’s at state park all across the state. It’s a fantastic way to get comfortable in the outdoors. To take your kids and show them that we can leave the TV behind and the video game behind for a little while and still get outside and have a great time. And Texas Outdoor Family breaks down some of those barriers when people aren’t comfortable, or don’t know those basic outdoor skills. We provide the tents, we provide the expertise, and all the other equipment that people will need in our Texas Outdoor Family program.

You just bring sleeping bags, food and personal effects.

That’s our show for today…with funding provided by Chevrolet…building dependable, reliable trucks for more than 90 years.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV: Legacy of LBJ

Friday, May 20th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Growing up, President Lyndon Baines Johnson felt the pinch of rural poverty, which may be why the Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm exists inside the LBJ State historic Site. TPW TV Producer, Don Cash, tells us about a segment airing this month called LBJ’s Hill Country Legacy.

It’s not really so much about Lyndon Johnson as president, but it’s really more about how he grew up in this part of Texas. A simple life on a farm, and how maybe that affected what he did as president later in his life.

You really can see why he felt the public would gain the sense of compassion for history, and how it can shape a person.

The Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm is an actual working farm. And you’ve got volunteers and employees dressed in period costume—they’re milking cows, they’re making sausage—they’re doing everything as it would have happened in the early 1900s.

It was one of the ideas of LBJ to actually have this happen—the concept of people realizing what life was like without electricity and running water. And he said, ‘People aren’t going to know that if we don’t somehow preserve that.’

It’s a great chance for people to go see how hard life was and how easy we have it today.

Thanks, Don.

The show airs the week of May 21.

That’s our show for today…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Birding Legend: Victor Emmanuel

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Serious birders all know the name Victor Emanuel, founder and compiler for 50 years of the Freeport Christmas Bird Count.

Since 1976, Emanuel has operated a nature tourism company that takes people to birding hotspots around the globe. He says it all started with a desire to make his passion his work.

I’ve been interested in birds and nature ever since I was a little boy. And I always wanted to know how I could find some way to make a living doing it. And I met a man named Peter Alton who was doing it for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and thought, well maybe I can do that. And then I had a gentleman call me and ask me to take he and his sister out birding when I lived in Houston. So, I thought there was some market for that in society. And then the National Audubon Society had their convention in New Orleans in 1975. And they asked me to plan some trips for them to Mexico. And, I had met George Plimpton through a bird count that I do down in Freeport; he introduced me to Peter Matheson. Peter Matheson went on one of my first tours as a celebrity leader. I got to know Roger Tory Peterson, who was kind of the person who developed bird watching as a hobby in the united states by his field guides. And he helped me. So, I had a lot of lucky breaks, and a lot of people joining me—friends of mine—who helped me get started.

Learn more about birding in Texas when you go to the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

The SFWR program supports our series and helps to fund the operations and management of more than 50 wildlife management areas. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Look at the Birdies

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Kids spend too much time indoors in front of computer screens. But given a little encouragement and guidance, they could be willing leave the cyber world of “” for the real world of wide open spaces.

03—It’s just a matter of taking the time to get ‘em outdoors.

Madge Lindsay is executive director of Audubon Mississippi; before that she was with Texas Parks and Wildlife, and played an instrumental role in creating the Great Texas Birding Trail, The Great Texas Birding Classic and the World Birding Center. So it comes as no surprise she advocates birding as an introductory outdoor activity.

16—All you need is a pair of binoculars and a bird book. And I’ve found that the kids really love it. They not only love the birds, but everything else in nature fascinates them. And it’s really fun to watch them as they discover something. And a lot of times this is their first trip into nature.

Lindsay says you and your kids can begin your birding adventure by stepping outside your own back door.

11—That’s the best place to start – right in your own backyard. Get a pair of binoculars, even if they’re inexpensive, something to bring them up close. Get a bird book and just start discovering your backyard birds.

To find birding opportunities near you — just log onto the Texas Parks and Wildlife Website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series, providing funding for the Private Lands and Habitat Enhancement Program.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.