Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Congressman Gohmert and Staff Visits Weevil Rearing Facility

On Wednesday, August 15th, Congressman Louie Gohmert from Texas' 1st Congressional District visited the Center for Invasive Species Eradication's Giant Salvinia Weevil Rearing Facility as a part of his visit to the district during Congress' summer recess. The Congressman has been actively engaged and supports efforts to quell the giant salvinia infestation at Caddo and other lakes throughout his district. As a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Congressman Gohmert routinely deals with issues that impact our nation's natural resources.

While the Congressman has been on Caddo Lake many times and seen the perils of giant salvinia first hand, many of his Staff have not. This stop on the Congressman's trip gave some of his staff the opportunity to see giant salvinia up close and personal while also getting out on Caddo Lake to enjoy its unique beauty.

The first stop on the tour was the giant salvinia weevil rearing facilities green houses. The Congressman and his staff were briefed on the operations of the green houses and weevil production by Mr. Lee Eisenberg. Also mentioned was the great collaboration that has gone into the establishment and operation of the facility. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Caddo Lake Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge staff and many local volunteers were of great assistance to Texas A&M University personnel in getting the facility constructed and underway. 

Moving indoors to the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge headquarters and the lab we have set up there, Lee continued discussions on how weevils are sampled. An adult weevil and weevil larvae were also available to view under a microscope. Adult weevils are about 2 mm in length, so getting a really good look at them requires magnification.

Following the brief stint in the lab, the visit to the weevil rearing facility wrapped up with a short presentation and video. Dr. Allen Knutson discussed work that he and Dr. Abhishek Mukherjee are conducting to evaluate the cold tolerance of the salvinia weevil. Initial findings indicate that weevils from different geographic locations are adapted to their specific climates making some more cold tolerant than others. The video shown (same video as the previous post) highlighted the current giant salvinia situation on Caddo Lake.

Before the Congressman and his staff departed, we took a short boat tour of Caddo Lake. Joining in on the tour was newly elected Texas House of Representatives Member Elect Chris Paddie. He will be representing House District 9 in the coming session. Given the time available, we weren't able to get the group out to the areas of the lake where giant salvinia is really bad. Regardless, everyone was able to truly enjoy Caddo Lake.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Video of Giant Salvinia and Other Invasives

On July 31, 2012, Mr. Jack Canson of the Caddo Lake Institute and Mr. Robert Speight of the Cypress Valley Navigation District ventured into the Clinton Lake and Bird Roost areas of Caddo Lake and shot some video of the current vegetation situation. The video was shot from a moving boat in the backwaters of Caddo, so it is a little fuzzy sometimes. 

What the video shows is somewhat disturbing in that it shows extensive amounts of giant salvinia along with plenty of other invasive plants. Aside from giant salvinia, alligator weed and American lotus are also problematic this year. In many cases, the alligator weed and lotus are so thick, that it is hard to see the giant salvinia. Anyway, watch the video and then read the rest of the post.

So the video shows some pretty extensive mats of giant salvinia and plenty of other aquatic vegetation. One good thing to note about this video is that salvinia weevils are actively being released into the Bird Roost area of Caddo Lake (where the worst of the giant salvinia was in the video). Two releases have been made this year and at least one more will be made before the growing season ends further increasing weevil numbers. Weevils have shown the ability to persist in this area of the lake through the winter and certainly have plenty of food/habitat here. As a result, weevil populations have the needed ingredients to expand on their own in this location. Additionally, this part of the lake is relatively isolated from the rest of the lake making an ideal weevil nursery.

As more weevils are released, chances of keeping giant salvinia in control increase; however, this is certainly an uphill battle. Continuing to treat giant salvinia with biological and chemical means while educating the public about the perils of giant salvinia are a must.

Please share this video with your friends and family and help show how this plant can take over a waterbody.