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Wiley students work to combat invasive weed at Caddo Lake

Sept. 10, 2017 at 4 a.m.

Wiley College students Cherrita Nicholas and Kenisha Arthur pose at Caddo Lake in Karnack. Not pictured is fellow student Aisha Jamison.

Wiley College students Kenisha Arthur, Cheerita Nicholas and Aisha Jamison interned with Caddo Biocontrol at Caddo Lake this summer to work on the lake's infestation by invasive weed giant salvinia.

Caddo Lake is an internationally protected wetland and one of the largest natural lakes in the south. It has been battling an invasive aquatic weed, giant salvinia, since the late 1990s.

Many regions have found weevils to be effective pest control. 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.

Wiley's students learned chemical and biological techniques to maintain and study salvinia and its weevils in both the lab and the greenhouse. They also 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.

In July, the interns prepared a Power Point presentation to discuss their work at Wiley's STEMulate Math Camp.

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