2012 Annual Report
Invasive weeds have invaded the Everglades ecosystem decreasing its biodiversity. Biological controls of these weeds will be developed by the introduction of safe insects that reduce weed vigor. Student interns assisted in laboratory tasks that supported quarantine risk assessment of prospective biological control agents of the invasive weed Brazilian pepper, Schinus terebinthifolius. Specifically their duties include maintaining laboratory colonies of quarantine biological control candidates, propagation of host plants for raising insects and test plants for conducting the experiments. Additionally, the interns assisted in the collection of experimental data and in the data entry of the results. The interns also assisted in laboratory research analyzing the chemical nature of host selection and utilization by these insects. Analyses were completed of the terpenoid and phenolic characterization of plant samples. The interns assisted in the recovery of a new species of Gracillariidae on Chinese tallow from Florida. Approved biological controls will reduce the health and vigor of these invasive weeds, reduce their damage to natural areas and agriculture, and reduce dependence on synthetic herbicides.