Salvinia. It sounds like it could be a dreamy girl’s name but it’s actually a nightmare of a noxious weed wreaking havoc in American waters. Caddo Lake, a once idyllic body of water between Texas and Louisiana, is one of the worst salvinia-affected places in the world. Described as ‘velcro-like’, the weed has spread fast, ripping through existing greenery and choking out all life beneath the surface of the water. Residents and authorities have taken desperate measures to try to kill it off. Somebody tried blasting a patch of it with a 2000 degree blowtorch. Almost $3 million has been spent dispensing poison throughout contaminated waterways. But like an unkillable antagonist in a horror movie, salvinia just keeps bouncing back.
Enter our unlikely heroes: little Brazilian weevils. Turns out they are rather partial to a bit of salvinia. They were originally employed by Australian scientists to fight off an attack of the weed in Queensland in the 1980s, and now they’re being bred en masse by American scientists in Caddo to battle their infestation. At this stage, the weevils are proving somewhat effective, albeit slow and a little unpredictable but those tiny beetles and their big appetites are the closest thing to hope there currently is. Read more in the terrific Texas Monthly feature, Creatures from the Green Lagoon.
Photo: Darren Braun