JASPER, TX (KTRE) -
A bug has become a solution to an old problem plaguing East Texas lakes.
Salvinia damages boats and fish populations, but now the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is getting help from a hungry little bug.
It’s a tiny bug with a huge appetite. They’re called weevils raised right here in East Texas.
“They reproduce every week,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife fishing tech Jeff Bowling. “Every eight days or so, they can double in numbers.”
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's goal is to have weevils chow down on the salvinia plant, which can affect a lot of boating trips.
“Salvinia affects fish habitats, it mats up to where you can’t get a boat through it in some cases,” said Texas parks and wildlife assistant biologist Thomas Deckor. “It also can clog up things like hydrometric power plants and drinking water inlets.”
“What we’re trying to do is raise them here in the greenhouse so we can then spread the salvinia containing the weevlis out on Lake Sam Rayburn,” said Texas Parks & Wildlife spokesman Tom Harvey.
The idea is to have weevils eat the salvinia that they were raised on and then feast on the rest of the salvinia that is spread throughout Texas lakes.
Experts said it takes about 680,000 weevils just to get control over an acre of salvinia.
“It’s almost impossible to completely eradicate, and the best we can hope for is control,” Deckor said.
“What we have here is about three-and-a-half acres of a salvinia infestation and the salvinia is so thick that there is a terrestrial grass growing on top of the salvinia,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife fisher tech, Mike Gore.
The weevils are a part of a huge scale to create a safer water environment for boaters and fish.
“They are one tool in the tool box along with herbicides, lake draw downs, and public education to prevent the spread,” Harvey said.
On Wednesday, 30,000 adult weevils and 90,000 offsprings were dumped into a newly discovered affected area on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Lawmakers recognized the growing issue of salvinia and approved an $5.5 million dollar budget increase and five new employee positions for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department state-wide.