Archive for July, 2011

Interpreting Parks

Friday, July 29th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

There’s no doubt Texans love their state parks. Our state park guide, Bryan Frazier, says for anyone wishing to develop an even deeper appreciation of these specials places—think: interpretive park tours.

You know, the expertise our park interpretive staff has in Texas is second to none. They know the wildlife, the geology, the history, the culture.

And last year we had almost 700-thousand people that enjoyed some sort of interpretive tour in our state parks. Those nature hikes, and birding tours, and history and culture presentations that the park rangers are able to do at the parks. People love that.

That’s why they go there, is to not just to experience and enjoy the outdoors, but to learn about what makes Texas so unique and such a special place for so many people. And those interpretive programs give people that chance. And you can call and set those up and a lot of times, they’re regularly scheduled anyway.

So whether you’re in the Panhandle or the Gulf Coast, there’s so much to know and learn about the beauty and the rich, rich history of our state parks.

Thanks, Bryan.

Go to to learn more about interpretive programs at your state parks.

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.

Doing Battle Against a Pest

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

Prickly pear cacti are economically important to Texas and Mexico. They’re also the larval food of the cactus moth, a voracious nonnative species that’s heading westward toward our state.

07—As of 2009 it’s south of New Orleans. So, it’s just over 200 miles from the Texas border.

Invertebrate biologist Michael Warriner says the larvae of this prolific South American moth species, which is active this time of year, can decimate prickly pear populations. The adult insect is non-descript and difficult to identify, but the larvae is easier to recognize.

26—Looking for the larvae or evidence of feeding damage is the best thing to look for. The caterpillars themselves are a bright orange to red coloration with black bands or spots. The larvae spend most of their time inside of the prickly pear pad, and they basically hollow it out. So the pad, as the larvae feed on it, will become transparent and they’ll eventually just collapse.

Researchers are developing methods of managing the moth. Until then, if you see infested plants…

12—You can still control it by removing the infested pads and that would help. Disposing and burning them. Or simply enclosing them in some kind of plastic bag to heat up the larvae and kill them.

Find links to more information about the cactus moth at

That’s our show for today… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti
Cactus Moth on Wikipedia
Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum on the Cactus Moth
USDA on the Cactus Moth

Prickly Pear Pest

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

There’s a moth making its way to Texas from Florida whose larvae feed exclusively on prickly pear cactus.

07—The cactus moth has proven to be a really effective eradicator of prickly pear.

invertebrate biologist, Michael Warriner, says Australian officials imported the cactus moth—a South American native—in the mid 1920s as a biological control against the coastal prickly pear; a nonnative species they had imported in the early 1800s. It escaped cultivation and eventually infested 62 million acres of land.

11—And over a few years, it didn’t totally eliminate it, but it reduced it substantially. So, it’s proven to be one of the most successful biological control agents, as far as insects go.

The moth, discovered in the Florida Keys in 1989, may have arrived on imported prickly pears, and since then has spread up to South Carolina and over to Louisiana.

26—So, the concern is that if it makes it to the southwestern United States and Mexico that it could have a similar impact and eradicate or reduce prickly pear; and the fact is that—for Mexico especially—prickly pear is a major agricultural commodity in the tens of millions of dollars in terms of value. And it’s worth millions of dollars in the US, too: for agriculture and biodiversity and landscaping.

Tomorrow: How to identify and prevent the spread of the cactus moth.

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

Invasive Aquatic: Hydrilla

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

At first glance, hydrilla—an exotic aquatic plant—seems beneficial to large mouth bass.

08—The hydrilla acts just as a habitat, refuge, cover for the bass. And so they’ll hide out in that, waiting for a bait to come by.

John Wedig is a supervisor of aquatic sciences at the Lower Colorado River Authority. He says many fishermen use hydrilla to their advantage.

07—The fishermen realize that [the way bass wait for bait], and now they mimic or imitate that bait with their lure and it improves their chances of catching a bass.

But the fun and games don’t last. Hydrilla is an invasive species, and if it’s not controlled, it can grow into a thick mat that becomes detrimental to fish and frustrating to fishermen.

16—That’s what we actually experienced on Lake Bastrop years ago, where we had a 900 acre lake with about 600 acres of hydrilla in it. And so there was so much cover, they [the bass] couldn’t get to their food fish. So we actually had what was referred to as “skinny bass.”

Hydrilla has been controlled in many lakes using chemical herbicides and even grass carp.

But Earl Chilton, a Texas parks and Wildlife aquatic habitat enhancement director, says fighting hydrilla will be an ongoing battle, and complete elimination is highly unlikely.

11—Hydrilla produces tubers. They’re potato like structures that can remain dormant in the sediments for years, sometimes over a decade. So when you think you’ve got it under control, these things are sitting down there waiting to come back.

The Sport Fish and Wildlife restoration Program supports our series…and funds habitat research and restoration in Texas. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

TPW Magazine August Preview

Monday, July 25th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

The August issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine will be on newsstands soon, and if you’re a fan of state parks, birding and the border—this may be the perfect issue for you. Editor, Louie Bond.

I think it’s such an interesting mix this month. Our readership is so diverse sometimes it’s quite a challenge to please everybody in each issue, but I do think this is one of those issues that has something for everyone.

And, the wonderful magic of it is they all tie together in a wonderful way.

First, we have an article on state park acquisitions; what we call the golden age. During the 1970s and 80s there was a perfect storm of money and opportunity and we purchased some of our most iconic parks during that time period.

One of our favorite things to do in state parks and wild areas is to bird watch. So, we include our fall migration calendar with lots of events where you can go catch this spectacular fall migration that happens across Texas each year.

And one of the best places to go birding, of course, is down in South Texas along the border, and we have a special look at the border fence this month and its impact on wildlife. So, I think there’s something for everyone in the August issue.

You can read a variety of past articles online at

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