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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Lauderdale, Florida » Invasive Plant Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #430076

Research Project: Identification, Evaluation, and Implementation of Biological Control Agents for Invasive Weeds of Southeastern Ecosystems

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

2018 Annual Report

1. New biological control agent for Brazilian pepper. The thrips biocontrol agent Pseudophilothrips ichini recently obtained a letter of concurrence from U.S. Fish & Wildlife that stated it was not likely to adversely affect any threatened or endangered organisms and thus is cleared for public comment as part of the permitting process. Thrips feeding under greenhouse conditions reduced Brazilian pepper seedling growth by 80%. When the release is approved this summer, this biological control agent may provide land managers and farmers with a cost effective means of controlling Brazilian pepper by reducing the current and expensive reliance on herbicidal control.

2. New biological control agent for Chinese tallow. ARS scientists in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, completed host range testing of the moth Gadirtha fusca and found this insect to be safe for release. A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) petition for general release was prepared and submitted. When the release is ultimately approved, this biological control agent may provide land managers and farmers with a cost effective means of controlling Chinese tallow by reducing the current reliance on herbicidal control.

3. New biological control agent for air potato. ARS scientists in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, completed host range testing for a new biological control agent, the beetle Lilioceris egena, that eats the reproductive bulbils (‘potatoes’) associated with air potato. A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) petition was submitted and subsequently received a recommendation for release with minimal comments from committee members.

4. New insights on indirect effects of biological control by ARS scientists in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A NIFA funded research project examining the indirect effects of biological control found no evidence that a biological control agent negatively influences other native insects in the same aquatic habitat.

Review Publications
Minteer, C., Smith, M., Lake, E.C., Pokorny, E.N. 2018. Teaching complex ecological concepts through a demonstration garden Biodiversity, invasions and conservation in practice. The American Biology Teacher. 80(5):346-352.
Pile, L., Wang, G., Stoval, J., Siemann, E., Wheeler, G.S., Gabler, C.A. 2017. Mechanisms of Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) invasion and their management implications– A review. Forest Ecology and Management. 404:1-13.
Lake, E.C., Minteer, C.R. 2018. A Review of the Integration of Classical Biological Control with other Management Techniques to Manage Invasive Weeds in Natural Areas and Rangelands. BioControl. 63:71-86.
Wheeler, G.S., Hight, S.D., Wright, S.A. 2017. Impact of field densities of the naturalized defoliator Caloptilia triadicae on the invasive weed Chinese tallowtree. Environmental Entomology. 46(6):1305–1312.
Tipping, P.W., Martin, M., Rayamajhi, M.B., Pratt, P.D., Gettys, L. 2018. Combining biological and mechanical tactics to suppress Melaleuca quinqueneria. Biological Control. 121:229-233.
Tipping, P.W., Gettys, L., Minteer, C., Foley, J., Sardes, S. 2017. Herbivory by biological control agents improves herbicidal control of waterhyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). Invasive Plant Science and Management. 107:41-49.
Tipping, P.W., Martin, M., Gettys, L. 2017. Biological control increases the susceptibility of Melaleuca quinquenervia to fire. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 27(8):1014-1017.
Jones, I.M., Kopture, S. 2017. Dead land walking: the value of continued conservation efforts in south Florida’s imperiled pine rocklands. Biodiversity and Conservation Journal.
Burckhardt, D., Cuda, J., Diaz, R., Overholt, W., Prade, P., De Queiroz, D., Vitorino, M., Wheeler, G.S., Williams, D. 2018. Taxonomy of the Brazilian peppertree psyllids (Hemiptera: Calophyidae: Calophya). Florida Entomologist. 101(2):178-188.
Jones, I.M., Koptur, S., Pena, J. 2017. Exploring whether and how ants affect reproductive fitness in Senna mexicana var. chapmanii. Florida Entomologist. 100(3):539-545.
Smith, M., Mack, R.N. 2018. Apparent tolerance of low water availability in temperate Asian bamboos. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. 36(1):7-13.
Smith, M., Overholt, W.C., Lake, E.C., Diaz, R., Manrique, V., Hight, S.D., Rohrig, E., Minteer, C., Wheeler, G.S., Rayamajhi, M.B., Bowers, K.E., Kerr, C. 2018. Changes in latitude: overwintering survival of two Lilioceris cheni(Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) biotypes in Florida. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 28(3):293-306.
Lake, E.C., Smith, M., Rayamajhi, M.B., Pratt, P.D., Dray Jr, F.A. 2018. Minimum threshold for establishment and dispersal of Lilioceris cheni (Coleoptera: Chrysomelide): a biological control agent of Dioscorea bulbifera. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 28(6):603-613.