Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory2013 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
To obtain biological control agents of air potato, skunk vine, and old-world climbing fern.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Survey air potato, skunk vine, and old-world climbing fern populations in various parts of Nepal, conduct preliminary studies on biology and taxonomy, rear, and ship (collaborators will obtain shipping permit from appropriate Nepalese agency) to USDA/ARS Quarantine Facility #106 (using Principal Investigator's [PI] APHIS permit) for further evaluation of their host specificity and biocontrol efficacy. Collaborators from the Nepal Agricultural Research Council will work according to published criteria and in close contact with the PI.
3. Progress Report:
This research directly relates to inhouse objective 5 - Release and establish the populations of released agents, evaluate efficacy, and corroborate environmental safety of approved biological control agents and develop and distribute the technology to customers in order to expedite their adoption and deployment. Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Entomology Division has collected and maintained air potato colonies in their rearing facility at Khumaltar in Kathmandu Valley. Two shipments of Lilioceris species have been received from Nepal during the first year of the agreement period. First shipment contained 300 adults identified as Lilioceris cheni. These beetles went through at least two generations in our quarantine facility and are currently in being subjected to morphological examinations, DNA analysis, and quick host range tests to make sure that the shipment matches exactly to those Nepalese beetles that were originally tested for their host range and approved by TAG and USDA-APHIS for field releases. The second shipment contained three boxes of beetles collected from Kathmandu Valley and surrounding areas. One of the shipped boxes contained 80 adult beetles collected from Naubishe area (outside Kathmandu Valley) that feed on air potato leaves and bulbils and but lay eggs on bulbils only; eggs hatch and the resulting larvae exclusively feed on the bulbils and completely destroy them. Currently, their colony is being maintained in quarantine for taxonomic identification and host range testing. Additional two boxes containing 20 and 25 adults that were collected from Kathmandu Valley appeared to be L. cheni (same as last year’s shipment); beetles in these colonies died during overwintering treatment in quarantine facility.