Texas Is Using French Wasps to Kill Invasive Bamboo

Importing a foreign invader to kill a foreign invader: What could go wrong?

As if drug cartels and illegal immigration weren’t enough for Border Patrol officers in Texas to worry about. An invasive, speedy weed called carrizo cane is giving shelter to criminals and worsening ecological woes. Out of options, Texas is importing reinforcements in the form of French wasps to clear the cane fields.

Native to the Mediterranean, carrizo cane is an untidy bamboo brush that resists fire, bulldozing, and poison. The Rasputin of wild-growing brush aides cartels, concealing stash houses and dead bodies. Officers have heard screams from cane thickets without finding the source. And the cane hogs water, exacerbating drought conditions.

Here’s how bad things have gotten: Austin is calling France. Texas officials have signed a budget bill to bring in pinhead-sized Arundo wasps, whose goal in life is to devour carrizo cane with reckless abandon. Going off the advice of U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist John Goolsby, who assures everyone these wasps only eat and nest in carrizo, the critters are being set loose on the troublesome brush to hatch their eggs, eat the core of the bamboo, and stunt its growth to the point where it can no longer multiply and thrive.

And when the Carrizo is contained? If all goes to plan, the wasps’ numbers will likewise dwindle. Unless they evolve somehow. We’ll see how that goes.