Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory
Project Number: 6629-22000-011-58
Start Date: Oct 22, 2013
End Date: May 06, 2014
The methods will follow standard protocols that include foreign surveys for adapted herbivores from Southeast Asia and risk assessment studies of these species to determine their safety in preparation for approval to release from state and federal regulatory agencies. Molecular taxonomy will be undertaken to help identify the origin of the USA populations of the weed. Molecular techniques will also be used to supplement laboratory research to separate closely related species if they occur and to compare the insects found in different locations in Southeast Asia. Field surveys will include monitoring of non-target plant species growing with Rhodomyrtus in the field for any evidence of activity by targeted insects. Because of the relatively widespread occurrence of the plant in Southeast Asia, surveys will cover a range of climatic and site variables. Experienced local botanists and entomologists will be consulted wherever appropriate and identified specimens will be lodged in local collections. Evidence of parasitism of prospective agents will be investigated and this will supplement information on any seasonal variations of herbivore populations observed during regular surveys. Identification of specimens will rely on local specialists as well as group experts in the USA, particularly at the USDA/ARS Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL), Beltsville, Maryland.