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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY BASED MANAGEMENT OF INVASIVE INSECT PESTS AND WEEDS

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

Title: Successful biological control of tropical soda apple in Florida

Authors
item Diaz, Rodrigo -
item Hibbard, Ken -
item Roda, Amy -
item Amalin, Divina -
item Fox, Abbie -
item Hight, Stephen
item Medal, Julio -
item Stansly, Phil -
item Overholt, William -

Submitted to: Florida Cattleman
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2012
Publication Date: February 15, 2012
Citation: Diaz, R., Hibbard, K.L., Roda, A., Amalin, D., Fox, A.J., Hight, S.D., Medal, J., Stansly, P.A., Overholt, W.A. 2012. Successful biological control of tropical soda apple in Florida. Florida Cattleman. 76(5):32,34,36,38.

Interpretive Summary: Tropical soda apple is a small shrub native to tropical regions of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. This weed was first found in Florida in 1988. In May 2003, a leaf feeding tortoise beetle from South America was released in Florida as a biological control agent of tropical soda apple. Scientists with USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Tallahassee, FL, along with USDA-APHIS, University of Florida, and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services researchers, evaluated the tropical soda apple biological control program. Successful biological control of tropical soda apple in Florida was attributed to the collaborative efforts of property owners, extension agents, government employees, and scientists working together. This partnership facilitated the widespread distribution of the leaf beetle in Florida, helped in raising public awareness about the program, and allowed a constant feedback from stakeholders. Understanding the distribution of the biological control agent across Florida allowed us to effectively target our program efforts. Finally, the use of several delivery methods was critical during technology transfer, and can serve as a model for other invasive plant programs.

Technical Abstract: Tropical soda apple, Solanum viarum, is a small shrub native to tropical regions of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. This weed was first found in Florida in 1988. In May 2003, a leaf feeding beetle, Gratiana boliviana, from South America was released in Florida as a biological control agent of tropical soda apple. Scientists with USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Tallahassee, FL, along with USDA-APHIS, University of Florida, and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services researchers, evaluated the tropical soda apple biological control program. Successful biological control of tropical soda apple in Florida was attributed to the collaborative efforts of property owners, extension agents, government employees, and scientists working together. This partnership facilitated the widespread distribution of G. boliviana in Florida, helped in raising public awareness about the program, and allowed a constant feedback from stakeholders. Understanding the distribution of the biological control agent across Florida allowed us to effectively target our program efforts. Finally, the use of several delivery methods was critical during technology transfer, and can serve as a model for other invasive plant programs.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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