Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory
2013 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 assist in the collection of experimental data and in the data entry of the results. The interns assisted in the testing a moth species, Crasimorpha infuscata and a Crasimorpha n. sp. The interns assisted in summarizing previous release data of this insect, a fruit feeding beetle, and a leaf rolling moth in HI during an earlier period. 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.