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LSU releasing weevils

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LSU AgCenter crew loads weevils, photo courtesy LSU AgCenter LSU AgCenter crew loads weevils, photo courtesy LSU AgCenter

HOUMA, La., (KNOE 8 News) - LSU AgCenter scientist Dearl Sanders is trying to move as many salvinia weevils as he can to combat the invasive aquatic plant giant salvinia, which is clogging waterways across Louisiana.

"You have to transport the entire plant infested with the weevils. That way you get the adult, the immature and the egg all at one time," Sanders said.

The salvinia weevil was first released in Louisiana in 2007. Since then, it has successfully controlled giant salvinia in infested areas between Bayou Lafourche and the Mississippi River, Sanders said.

The weevil-infested salvinia is harvested by hand from the ponds and put into plastic storage totes. Sanders said one tote can hold about 40 to 50 pounds of salvinia. With 10 adult weevils per pound, each tote contains 400 to 500 adult weevils and about the same amount of eggs.

"It's enough to establish a colony at a release site," Sanders said.

The weevils harvested from this pond were given to state agencies, parish governments and corporate and private landowners free of charge for release into infested waterways.

Salvinia has been a problem in Louisiana for more than ten years. Weevil releases are part of a broader control strategy used by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

"This is one part of what we are aiming toward, using every tool that we have in our tool box. We use herbicide control. We use biological control with the weevil. And we use mechanical control with our draw-downs and water fluctuations," said Alex Perret, LDWF aquatic plant control coordinator.

Sanders plans to release a million more weevils from ponds in that area over the next two years.


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