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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT & EVALUATION OF BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS FOR INVASIVE SPECIES THREATENING THE EVERGLADES & OTHER NATURAL AND MANANGED SYSTEMS

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Title: Testing Carea varipes and Neostauropus alternus as biological control agents for the Florida invasive plant species Rhodomyrtus tomentosa.

Authors
item Herdonica, Karenyn -
item Valentine, Vanessa -
item Maul, D. -
item Pratt, Paul

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 15, 2013
Publication Date: June 15, 2013
Citation: Herdonica, K., Valentine, V., Maul, D.P., Pratt, P.D. 2013. Testing Carea varipes and Neostauropus alternus as biological control agents for the Florida invasive plant species Rhodomyrtus tomentosa. Meeting Abstract.

Interpretive Summary: Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (RT) a native plant to Southeastern Asia, commonly known as downy rose myrtle, is invasive to the regions of Central and South Florida. Introduced in the early 1920’s, this weed is currently considered a Category I invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. RT is difficult to kill with pesticides or by fire since it re-sprouts easily after burning and herbicide application. Currently, scientists at the USDA-ARS-IPRL are developing a biological control program with the aim of suppressing RT with host specific insects. Since it is native to SE Asia, the candidate biological control insects used in this study, Carea varipes (CV) and Neostauropus alternus (NA), are native to that region as well. We questioned if C. varipes or N. alternus are specialist herbivores of RT, with sufficiently narrow host range to be suitable for introduction as biological control agents for this weed in Florida. After rearing the candidate insects, each insect population went through rigorous tests with 12 different plants species. Both Florida native and non-native species were included. Because neither insect species was host specific to RT, we found them unsuitable as biological control agents for this invasive species. (Funding provided by the USDA-ARS-IPRL and by the USDA-HSI Florida Caribbean Consortium for Agricultural Education [FCCAgE] grant.)

Technical Abstract: Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (RT) a native plant to Southeastern Asia, commonly known as downy rose myrtle, is invasive to the regions of Central and South Florida. Introduced in the early 1920’s, this weed is currently considered a Category I invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. RT is difficult to kill with pesticides or by fire since it re-sprouts easily after burning and herbicide application. Currently, scientists at the USDA-ARS-IPRL are developing a biological control program with the aim of suppressing RT with host specific insects. Since it is native to SE Asia, the candidate biological control insects used in this study, Carea varipes (CV) and Neostauropus alternus (NA), are native to that region as well. We questioned if C. varipes or N. alternus are specialist herbivores of RT, with sufficiently narrow host range to be suitable for introduction as biological control agents for this weed in Florida. After rearing the candidate insects, each insect population went through rigorous tests with 12 different plants species. Both Florida native and non-native species were included. Because neither insect species was host specific to RT, we found them unsuitable as biological control agents for this invasive species. (Funding provided by the USDA-ARS-IPRL and by the USDA-HSI Florida Caribbean Consortium for Agricultural Education [FCCAgE] grant.)

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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