Scientists Scrutinize New Melaleuca
December 9, 1997
An Australian weevil called Oxyops vitiosa, imported and
test-released earlier this year to stop melaleuca trees from overrunning
Florida's Everglades, might someday be joined by other helpful Aussie insects,
including a sawfly.
The melaleuca tree is a native of Australia, where it is not a pest.
Currently, intensive screening of potential new insect recruits to combat
melaleuca in the United States is underway in Florida and at a Brisbane,
Australia, laboratory run by USDA's
Agricultural Research Service and the
Australian government. These experiments will determine whether candidate
insects will eat melaleuca--and only melaleuca.
The melaleuca weevil was released in the U.S. for the first time on April 26
in the Everglades near Ft. Lauderdale. Researchers agree that the insect most
likely to follow it may be a beneficial sawfly named Lophyrotoma zonalis
(pronounced Loff-ruh-TOE-muh zoh-NOW-liss).
Greenhouse tests by ARS entomologist Gary R. Buckingham at Gainesville,
Fla., show that a troop of 100 sawfly caterpillars can destroy every leaf on a
10-foot-high melaleuca sapling in only 3 or 4 days.
For details, see the story in the December issue of the ARS monthly journal,
available on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contact: Gary R. Buckingham, USDA-ARS
Weed Control Research Unit, P.O. Box 147100, Gainesville, FL 32614; phone
(352) 372-3505, fax (352) 955-2301, e-mail