What do you do when 6,000 acres of your favorite place disappear?! When the lake you love becomes an endless expanse of floating green ferns? Fear not: with the power of community and a few underappreciated insect superheroes, not all hope is lost!

Strap in! On this edition of Saturdays Around the World, we’re headed out for a wild ride to investigate the happenings of Caddo Lake in Texas. Here, a community has had to come together to fight a new kind of foe with its own funny little enemy in order to protect the waters they hold dear.

By embracing the strengths of the community, knowledge of experts, and an army of weevils, the invasion at Caddo Lake has gone from 6,000 to 1,500 acres of salvinia. 1

But wait… what is giant salvinia? And what in the heck is a weevil? Get ready, because it takes a community to protect our precious waters, and the lessons from the lake have a lot to teach us about any major problem we face!

A Floating Fern Foe!

Giant salvinia is a floating fern originally from Brazil with a remarkable ability to rapidly grow. In fact, the floating mats they create are so thick that animals can walk across them!

In its natural habitat, other species have learned to live with the salvinia and keep it in check; it even has natural predators! But unfortunately, salvinia has made its way out of its Brazilian waters and reached the United States, where it has become an invasive force. 2 No one here knows what to do with it!

Now, lakes all across the southern United States are under threat from this quick-growing fern as it changes ecosystems and threatens native species and the livelihood of the communities around their beloved waters.

So, what is there to do to stop the impending threat of giant salvinia? Well, this is where we find ourselves at Caddo Lake and bring in the weevils!

It’s here at Caddo that community efforts have been combined with the giant salvinia’s natural foe to help combat the invasion. Who are these secret weapons? Why, it’s the giant salvinia weevil!

These creatures—coming in at a whopping 2 millimeters long—are equal warriors in the battle to save Caddo Lake!

In combination with community education, removal, and herbicides, weevils are helping save the day by munching on one of their favorite snacks! 3

So, let’s head down to Texas to meet some of the locals around Caddo Lake, and get a taste for how the community and their weevil friends are coming together to save this local gem! Here’s an incredible short film from Rory WT to take us there!

Via: Rory WT 4

If you want to check out more from this video’s creator, Rory WT, take a look at his Vimeo page! You can also keep up with him by checking out his website, and following him on social media!

To learn more about the efforts at Caddo Lake to stop the spread of giant salvinia, check out the Greater Caddo Lake Association of Texas’ website for more information!

Though this is a battle that will continue to be fought, the success scientists and the communities are experiencing at Caddo are helping others to take action against the ferocious fern as it makes its way into new waterways.

What’s possible when we come together!

Invasive species are everywhere, and it’s up to us to make sure we keep our favorite places safe! Stories like the battle against salvinia at Caddo Lake remind us that progress when it comes to big problems is possible when we enlist the right kind of help!

When it comes to progress—whether we’re saving lakes from deadly plants, keeping rainforests safe with old cell phones, or giving kids a brighter future with better education—it’s a community effort. In the case of Caddo Lake, it took the combined efforts of scientists, tiny weevils, and many community members to make an impact! Look around you and you’ll probably start to notice that even in your own communities, great strides are being made where our strengths and our collective knowledge are combined to solve problems.

Here are just a few examples we love and have featured on Ever Widening Circles:

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Could vacant lots actually hold the potential to make cities healthier? Take a look at how this couple is transforming Detroit's many vacant lots into an oasis for urban beekeeping and enriching their community! 

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Saving Rivers by Turning Toxins Into Art!

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With a little innovative thinking and collaboration, progress is possible.

And whether we are saving the world, supporting our communities, or finding ways to keep the peace with our family members, when we embrace our strengths to solve problems together, we can start to see change.

Where will you use this recipe for success?

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

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Notes:

  1. Knight, Steve. “After Some Relief, Salvinia Springs Back on East Texas Lakes.” TylerPaper.Com, 21 Mar. 2019, tylerpaper.com/texas_all_outdoors/blogs/after-some-relief-salvinia-springs-back-on-east-texas-lakes/article_7877ec78-4c55-11e9-9be7-93e34f6ae8e3.html. Accessed 16 July 2020.
  2. “Giant Salvinia.” Texas.Gov, 2020, tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/exotic/salvinia.phtml. Accessed 16 July 2020.
  3. Super User. “Salvinia FAQs from the Greater Caddo Lake Association of Texas.” Gclaoftx.Com, 2014, gclaoftx.com/salvinia#what-steps-are-being-taken-to-combat-it-at-caddo. Accessed 16 July 2020.
  4. WT, Rory. “There’s Something in the Water.” Vimeo, 16 July 2020, vimeo.com/306549995. Accessed 16 July 2020.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

CEO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and is now the CEO at Ever Widening Circles. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often root-tripping—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV