Archive for the 'Texas Invasives' Category

Texas Two Step Against Fire Ants

Monday, September 25th, 2017
Fire ants swarming sheet of paper. Image: TAMU

Fire ants swarming sheet of paper. Image: TAMU

This is Passport to Texas

The imported red fire ant can ruin a beautiful spring or fall day outdoors.

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, an entomologist with AgriLife Extension says researchers continue to work on ways to manage this non-native pest, which is a threat to wildlife.

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.

Use the Texas two-step method to combat fire ants… now through mid-October: first, broadcast an insecticide bait across your entire yard, and then treat individual mounds with an approved insecticidal drench, bait, granule or dust.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

ID and Dispatch the Cactus Moth

Thursday, August 17th, 2017
Photo credits: (top) Susan Ellis, USDA APHIS PPQ,; (mid) Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,; (bottom) CMDMN

Photo credits: (top) Susan Ellis, USDA APHIS PPQ,; (mid) Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,; (bottom) CMDMN

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.

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 can decimate prickly pear populations. The adult insect is non-descript and difficult to identify, but the larvae is easier to recognize.

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…

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: a Prickly Situation

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017
Map from presentation by Kristen Sauby, from her presentation to the  Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting.

Map from presentation by Kristen Sauby to the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting.

This is Passport to Texas

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

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—native to South America—in the mid-1920s as a biological control against the invasive, nonnative coastal prickly pear.

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 as far west as Louisiana.

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

Help Halt Aquatic Invasive Species

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

This is Passport to Texas

You know how Smokey Bear says:

[Smokey Bear] Remember: only you can prevent forest fires.

He’s reminding us of our personal responsibility when we’re outdoors. It’s as true on the water as it is on the land.

Aquatic invasive species can quickly infect water bodies unless we take preventive measures. With summer boating season underway, Texas Parks and Wildlife asks boaters to help to stop the spread giant salvinia and zebra mussels which can travel from lake to lake on boats and trailers.

Boaters: “Clean, Drain and Dry” you boats, trailers, and gear every time you travel from one waterbody to another. A video on the TPW YouTube channel demonstrates the proper steps.

First, inspect the boat, trailer and gear. Clean off any vegetation, mud or foreign objects that you find. Second, pull the plug and drain all the water from the boat, including the motor, the bilge, live wells, and bait buckets before leaving the lake. Third, open all compartments and live wells and allow your boat, trailer and gear to completely dry for a week or more before entering another water body.

For complete instructions on how to clean, drain and dry your boat and trailer to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, go to

The Sportfish Restoration Program Supports our series.

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

TPW TV — Razing Cane

Friday, July 7th, 2017
Arrundo Donax is ready for its close-up.

Arrundo Donax is ready for its close-up.

This is Passport to Texas

Mike Eckert lives just outside of Fredericksburg. He’s battling with an invasive plant called Giant Reed, or Arrundo Donax that’s taking over a creek on his property.

As best as I understand, it’s doesn’t spread from seeds. It spreads from pieces washing out and lodging somewhere, and then starting to grow again.

Next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series watch a segment called Razing Cane that explores the impact of this invader that threatens nearly every river system in Texas.

We’re almost to the Pedernales. Another half mile and you’ll hit the Pedernales down here. And they’ve got this stuff in the Pedernales, too. And it’s spreading pretty quick. And it’s all over. Everywhere you go, it’s there. It’s going to take a massive effort to wipe it out. And I’m not sure they’ll ever wipe it out.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Aquatic invasive species specialist, Monica McGarrity and a team of biologists is fighting back. They’re using an herbicide that will hopefully kill this introduced invasive weed.

Arrundo is a grass, but it’s a grass on steroids. It grows 30 to 40 feet tall. Huge, dense canes. So dense that wildlife can’t even get through it. And so this is a really aggressive plant, and it’s important to take equally aggressive action to manage it.

View the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV segment Razing Cane next week on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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