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 included 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. Experimental work included determination of the residual effects of pesticide applications to control the biological control agent, Pseudophilothrips ichini. These results showed that foliage and injected formulations of systemic insecticides controlled populations of this biological control agent for predictable durations. These results will be used post release of this biological control agent to determine their impact on the target weed, Brazilian pepper. 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.