A “French killer” has been hired to do a job no one else have been able to accomplish in Texas — killing carrizo cane. The bamboo-like reed is a formidable enemy of U.S. Border Patrol agents seeking to thwart illegal immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico.
Carrizo cane has been hacked down, poisoned, and bulldozed, but it just refuses to die. The United States federal government has reportedly spent “millions” of dollars to get rid of the invasive reed. Texas is now in the midst of importing killer wasps from France to try and rid them of the bamboo-like reed and make the job of the Border Control agents a little bit easier. The Arundo wasp is barely bigger than a pinhead and hails from Montpellier, France.
The carrizo cane has reportedly been used to camouflage stash houses, a caged Bengal tiger, and even half-ton Texas steers.
“I’ve heard agents talk about it like it was Sherwood Forest,” U.S. Border Patrol environmental consultant Francis Reilly said. “They’d hear screams or gunfire in the cane thickets, and not be able to find anybody when they went in.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a law in May to create a $10 million “carrizo-purge program” at the State Soil and Water Conservation Board. The funds to cover the program do not reportedly exist, but Texas officials are busy seeking the money necessary to get the project rolling. If successful, the carrizo-purge program would fund the efforts of U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist John Goolsby, who wants to release “armies” of French carrizo-eating wasps in the Rio Grande region.
There are some concerns about the French “killer” being unleashed in Texas. In 1883 the mongoose was introduced in Hawaii in an effort to kill sugar cane-eating rats. Instead of killing off the rats, the mongoose contingent dined on endangered sea turtles, chickens, and the eggs hatched by the state bird.
John Goolsby said that he has completed “thousands” of tests, and the French wasps only crave carrizo cane.
“The plant has met its worst enemy,” Goolsby added.
In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security tried to kill the carrizo cane with imazapyr, a chemical herbicide. Spraying the chemical from helicopters did not go over well with local folks — a group of citizens from Laredo sued to stop the endeavor, and won. Even when the carrizo cane fields are set ablaze, the reed still quickly grows back. Crews armed with sharp machetes have also had no luck in curtailing the growth of the reed.
The Arundo wasp is not believed to lay eggs anywhere but on carrizo cane. When the larvae hatch, the French wasps saw through the reed’s fibers for food and stunt its growth. The Arundo wasps cannot be permitted to become “too efficient,” according to environmentalists, or they will kill the entire cane field and cause potential disruption for ocelots and jaguarundi — rare cats.
What do you think about the French wasps, Arundo, being introduced along the Texas border to kill carrizo cane and allow Border Patrol agents to move more swiftly and safely through the region?