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"We have thousands of pools. We know a bunch of them are breeding mosquitoes, and there's the potential for West Nile virus," said Steve Sackett, an entomologist with the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board (NOMTCB). "We're concerned with pest problems, but we're really concerned with disease transmission."
Water Hyacinth grows profusely, forming dense mats that can spread across water surfaces eventually choking the entire water body. It can destroy native wetlands and waterway and kill native fish and other wildlife. Furthermore, it causes high evaporation rate and loss of water and degrades water quality.
Chinese tallow, which we freely spread ourselves - just a few years ago, we gave them as Christmas presents, they're so pretty and shady. Then the birds found the tallow berries and seeds, and now this tree infests thousands of acres of Florida's wildest forests. And also the wild forests of Louisiana, Texas and South Carolina.
I'd strongly advise against using this plant in areas that don't have regular, hard freezes. It can quickly cover trees and buildings and is nearly impossible to control, much less eradicate, in the coastal South. It forms large, extensive underground tubers that make it withstand even treatment with glyphosphate (RoundUp). It can germinate in the crack of a sidewalk and thrive there. I've seen them growing out of unused chimneys and covering the rooftops of houses. This plant spreads by seed and stolons. Established plants produce prodigeous numbers of seed. On the upside (?), I've never seen it growing in wild areas, only in urban settings.
Wetlands – The voracious appetite of nutria for vegetation in wild areas has led to severely damaged wetlands. By 1998 scientists had placed the total area of damaged wetlands in Louisiana alone at over 100,000 acres. (Faibisch, 2001)
Barrier Islands - Where Nutria feed on sea oats, sea dune stability may be threatened.
Wildlife – Recent declines in muskrat populations have been attributed to competition with nutria for food resources.
Crops – Extensive damage has been reported in rice, soybean, and sugar fields both from direct predation and from damage caused by nutria burrowing.
Parasites and diseases – Louisiana nutria have been found to carry several diseases, viruses, and parasites. Most notably, they carry the nematode Strongyloides myopotami, which can cause a severe itching rash in people handling nutria.