Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Beetle is Possible Biocontrol Against Skunk Vine / October 8, 2003 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Agricultural Research Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
ARS News and Information Search News and Info Science for Kids Image Gallery Agricultural Research Magazine Publications and Newsletters News Archive News and Info home ARS News and Information

Flea beetle, Trachyaphthona sordida. Click image for additional information.
Flea beetle, Trachyaphthona sordida. Click image for additional information.

Read the magazine story to find out more.

Beetle Is Possible Biocontrol Against Skunk Vine

By Alfredo Flores
October 8, 2003

A foreign flea beetle could hold the key to controlling skunk vine, a weedy vine that is a serious problem in central Florida and Hawaii. Agricultural Research Service scientists found the beetle and other possible biocontrol candidates in Japan and Nepal, where the beetle helps control skunk vine in the plant's native habitat.

Skunk vine (Paederia foetida) has invaded parts of the southeastern United States and is expected to spread elsewhere. In addition to its foul, sulfur-like stench, skunk vine grows densely over trees, ornamentals and cash crops.

ARS entomologists Robert W. Pemberton and Paul D. Pratt of the Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., lead a skunk vine combat team. In the summer of 2002, they searched the plant's native territory in Japan and Nepal for possible insect biological control agents against the vine.

The scientists consider the flea beetle, Trachyaphthona sordida, a high-priority candidate for biological control of the pest. They also brought back a lace bug worth evaluating, along with other natural skunk vine enemies discovered during the surveys.

During two weeks of intense work, they captured three batches of 200 flea beetles and shipped them to a quarantine laboratory at the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture in Honolulu. Testing will be done at that lab to determine what plants the insects tend to feed on and assess any potential risk from their use as biocontrols.

This flea beetle has been recorded as feeding only on skunk vine, and scientists doubt that it would pose a risk to agriculture or to native ecosystems in the United States.

More information about this research can be found in the October issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Top | News Staff | Photo Staff

E-mail the web team Privacy and other policies Site map About ARS Information Staff Bottom menu

Home | News | Pubs | Magazine | Photos | Sci4Kids | Search
About ARS Info | Site map | Policies | E-mail us

Last Modified: 10/8/2003
Footer Content Back to Top of Page