Michael E. Salassi
An invasive species is defined as a nonnative plant or organism that can be introduced into a new environment through a variety of means. Left unchecked, invasive species can cause tremendous, and in some cases irreparable, economic or environmental damage. Louisiana’s agricultural and natural resources continue to be under attack from a wide variety of invasive species. Some of these invasive species are new to the state, while others have been here for a long time. This issue of Louisiana Agriculture magazine highlights the broad range of research activities being conducted by LSU AgCenter research faculty to understand more about how invasive species survive and thrive and to identify effective means of controlling or limiting the damaging impacts of their existence in the state.
Louisiana is blessed with a tremendous array of wetland and coastal resources that provide substantial ecological, economic and recreational benefits. However, these vital resources are under attack. Giant salvinia, an invasive free-floating fern native to Brazil, which has existed in the state for many years, adversely impacts the state’s wetlands. The roseau cane scale, a relatively recent invasive species in the state, is attacking roseau cane, the dominant vegetation protecting Louisiana’s coastal marshes. Research faculty from the Department of Entomology are investigating biological means of controlling these pests. Entomology faculty are also conducting research to control the Formosan subterranean termite, a long-standing problem in Louisiana, as well as studying the impacts in rice and crawfish production systems as the result of the recent invasion of the apple snail into the state.
Louisiana’s agricultural production sector is a major driver of economic activity in the state, particularly in rural areas. Production of agronomic row crops, such as soybeans, corn, cotton, rice and sweet potatoes, as well as production of specialty crops, including landscape and ornamental horticulture plants, represent major components of the state’s agricultural production sector. Production of these crops are adversely impacted annually by a wide range of invasive insects, weeds and diseases, reducing yield and economic returns. Research focused on addressing and controlling these invasive pests is a major part of the LSU AgCenter’s mission. Faculty working in campus departments and on research stations annually conduct a broad array of research trials to evaluate and identify effective and economical pest management control measures.
In an effort to provide agricultural producers with the latest recommendations of materials and methods to control insect, weed and disease pests, the LSU AgCenter annually publishes pest management control guides, providing detailed information on not only the types of materials available for use in pest management, but also recommendations on the proper and safe use of these materials. These annual pest management guides are available online by the LSU AgCenter at www.lsuagcenter.com.
Michael E. Salassi is the associate vice president and program leader for plant and animal sciences. He is the chair of the Louisiana Agriculture editorial board.
(This article appears in the winter 2022 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
Michael E. Salassi. Photo by Olivia McClure