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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Biological Control Containment Facilities in Florida

Authors
item Overholt, William - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
item Cave, R - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
item Pratt, Paul
item Lake, P - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
item Scoles, John

Submitted to: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Journal Series
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2004
Publication Date: March 20, 2004
Citation: Overholt, W.A., Cave, R.D., Pratt, P.D., Lake, P.C., Scoles, J.C. March 2004. Biological control containment facilities in florida. Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Journal Series.

Interpretive Summary: Florida's tropical environment is ideal for the establishment of exotic organisms from numerous other areas of the world. Many of the most serious insect pests and weeds in Florida are exotic, and were either accidentally or intentionally introduced into the state. Most exotic plants were intentionally introduced into Florida, and the vast majority of these cause no significant economic or environmental harm. Unfortunately, a small number of these introduced plants multiply, spread into natural areas and change the local ecology. These plants are called invasive, and well-known examples include Brazilian peppertree, melaleuca, Australian pines, air potato, tropical soda apple, hydrilla and water hyacinth. One of the reasons that some exotic insects and plants become pests in their new range is a lack of natural enemies. Natural enemies include the insects, pathogens and other organisms that attack and feed on the pest in its native home. In most cases, the exotic insect or weed is not a serious pest in its native home, because its density is effectively suppressed by a complex group of natural enemies. One method that has been successfully used to control exotic insects and plants is called classical biological control. Classical biological control attempts to reunite exotic pests with their natural enemies by introducing natural enemies into the area of invasion. After scientists release an exotic natural enemy into the environment and it becomes established, they cannot recall it. Containment is required so that scientists can thoroughly study natural enemies in a secure environment, before deciding whether they are safe to release. There are two major tasks to accomplish in containment. First, scientists must examine the natural enemies to make sure that they harbor no unwanted organisms, such as parasites or pathogens. Second, they must determine the host range of the natural enemies to make sure that they only attack the targeted pest. This article describes the containment facilities in Florida and what role they play in the development of biological control.

Technical Abstract: Florida's tropical environment is ideal for the establishment of exotic organisms from numerous other areas of the world. Many of the most serious insect pests and weeds in Florida are exotic, and were either accidentally or intentionally introduced into the state. Most exotic plants were intentionally introduced into Florida, and the vast majority of these cause no significant economic or environmental harm. Unfortunately, a small number of these introduced plants multiply, spread into natural areas and change the local ecology. These plants are called invasive, and well-known examples include Brazilian peppertree, melaleuca, Australian pines, air potato, tropical soda apple, hydrilla and water hyacinth. One of the reasons that some exotic insects and plants become pests in their new range is a lack of natural enemies. Natural enemies include the insects, pathogens and other organisms that attack and feed on the pest in its native home. In most cases, the exotic insect or weed is not a serious pest in its native home, because its density is effectively suppressed by a complex group of natural enemies. One method that has been successfully used to control exotic insects and plants is called classical biological control. Classical biological control attempts to reunite exotic pests with their natural enemies by introducing natural enemies into the area of invasion. After scientists release an exotic natural enemy into the environment and it becomes established, they cannot recall it. Containment is required so that scientists can thoroughly study natural enemies in a secure environment, before deciding whether they are safe to release. There are two major tasks to accomplish in containment. First, scientists must examine the natural enemies to make sure that they harbor no unwanted organisms, such as parasites or pathogens. Second, they must determine the host range of the natural enemies to make sure that they only attack the targeted pest. This article describes the containment facilities in Florida and what role they play in the development of biological control.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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