Roseau Cane aerial photo

An aerial photos documents the scale infestation on roseau cane in the delta area at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RODRIGO DIAZ/LSU AGCENTER

Fishermen and the Wildlife and Fisheries folks who call the Pass a Loutre complex their home away from home were first to see it. Roseau cane, the most prolific above-the-ground Mississippi River delta plant, was turning brown at a time it was supposed to be green.

It was November last year and LDWF biologist Todd Baker said it took months to find out "why."

The LSU AgCenter took the first shot: Blame it on scale, an insect so small that it takes hundreds of them hanging on the underside of a leaf to imitate a “scale.” The "wherefore" came from the federal agriculture department and the British Natural History Museum, who said this species came from the Far East, mainly China and Japan.

Today, the infestation is so widespread that a coordinated effort involving LSU's AgCenter, the LDWF and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry along with LSU's Biology Department and the School of Renewable Natural Resources in an effort to are develop control and eradication methods. Plaquemines Parish cattle rancher Earl Armstrong and the Army Corps of Engineers are helping, too.

AgCenter entomologist Rodrigo Diaz said the insect is in large areas in Plaquemines Parish near the mouth of the Mississippi River and also is being found near Lafitte and Grand Isle.

Diaz said, while some of the browned-down cane has grown again, the scale has invaded the new growth again.

A parasitic wasp is known to be a natural enemy of the scale.

“The LSU AgCenter is providing a clear plan to tackle this problem,” Diaz said in a release, adding that funding will have to be found to carry out the plan.

Baker said the group is coordinating plans in asking the public for help in containing the insect and its cause. Baker said the boating public can help by washing boats after taking them from the affected areas.

Diaz said it’s possible an insecticide will be found to control the insect.

The AgCenter release reported that Diaz and fellow AgCenter entomologists Jim Cronin and Blake Wilson developed and delivered a webinar on this topic. It can be viewed on this site: bit.ly/2oQ4L4s.