Tiny insect crippling huge chunks of Louisiana Delta

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Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

PLAQUEMINES PARISH, Louisiana – The Roseau cane stands guard throughout the Mississippi River Delta. It is a silent sentinel in the vast stretch of untamed mud, grass and water that stretches from the tip of a continent into the Gulf of Mexico.

Each spring, the Roseau rises to heights of 10 feet and taller as it blooms in lusty green groves throughout the marsh. Those stands of Roseau are the bedrock of the delta. They are “nature’s walls” and they protect the marsh (and the people and hard ground behind it) from the punishing push of wind and water that is part of tropical weather here nearly every summer.

The Roseau Cane Mealy Bug, on the other hand, measures about ½-inch long. It is so tiny that it easily carries through the air, as well as on slender blades of grass ferried across the marsh by red-winged blackbirds.

The mighty Roseau plant is no match for the miniscule mealy bug, however, and there are a couple hundred thousand acres of ravaged wetlands throughout southeast Louisiana to prove it.