Wiley students spend summer battling,studying unwelcome guests at Caddo Lake - The Giant Salvinia Weed
Academics - Fri, Sep. 1, 2017
Wiley students Kenisha Arthur, Cheerita Nicholas, and Aisha Jamison interned this summer with Caddo Biocontrol at Caddo Lake in East Texas to work on combating the lake's infestation by the invasive weed, giant Salvinia.
Caddo Lake is an internationally protected wetland and is one of the largest natural lakes in the South. It is a beautiful, and attracts tourists for historic resorts, camping, boating, fishing, and hiking. However, the lake has had the unwelcome guests of giant Salvinia since the late 1990s.
Giant Salvinia is an invasive pest worldwide. However, many regions have found Salvinia weevils (Cyrtobagous salviniae) to be effective pest control. Salvinia weevils are small beetles that feed solely on giant Salvinia in their larval stage, and also damage giant Salvinia as adults. Because they are detrimental to their host, the giant Salvinia, but do not feed on other plants, they can be used to kill giant Salvinia safely, effectively, and without the use of herbicides.
Caddo Biocontrol has been rearing and releasing Salvinia weevils since 2014. However, giant Salvinia is not yet under control at Caddo Lake.
Wiley's students learned chemical and biological techniques to maintain and study Salvinia and its weevils in both the lab and the greenhouse. They then personally participated in the release of Salvinia weevils on Caddo Lake.
During this time, the students also designed and executed their own research project on how best to rear Salvinia weevils. Their data and conclusions will be used by Caddo Biocontrol, and will hopefully contribute to the group's efforts to improve their efficiency.
In July, the interns prepared a Power Point presentation to discuss their work at Wiley's STEMulate Math Camp.
This presentation was a success, and led to an invitation to present their research at the Greater Caddo Lake Association meeting in August. The mayor of Uncertain, Texas, attended the presentation and an article about the students was included in the Association's newsletter.
In top photo are Wiley Students Cherrita Nicholas and Kenisha Arthur at Caddo Lake in Karnack, Texas. In far right photo, Nicholas, Arthur , and volunteers gather samples of the invasive weed, giant Salvinia. In third photo,, students observe the Salvinia weevils that are being used as pest control to combat the infestation of weeds at the lake. In last photo, Aisha James, Nicholas, and Arthur give a presentation about their summer project at Caddo Lake to incoming Wiley freshmen during mid-July's STEMulate math and science camp.