Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory2013 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop safe and effective biological control agents for Waterhyacinth and Waterlettuce.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Receive or hand carry shipments from overseas, develop rearing methods to colonize insects in quarantine, conduct risk assessment analysis in quarantine to determine suitability for safe biological control introductions. Suitability will be determined by describing the agents physiological host range using an array of choice and no-choice feeding, oviposition, and development trials on North American plant species, analyze data and petition regulatory agencies for release permit, establish and evaluate agents in field sites around Florida using long-term permanent plots, repeated releases and sampling, and specialized caging and insecticide check methods.
3. Progress Report:
This research relates to in-house objectives 2: Elucidate the ecology and population dynamics of targeted weeds and their potential insect and pathogen biological control agents, and investigate the impact of weed suppression on community and ecosystem structure and function; 3: Conduct faunistic and floristic inventories to discover natural enemies that may serve as biological control agents, and 5: Release, establish, 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. Ecotypes of Megamelus scutellaris were collected recently in South America in order to determine whether insects collected from a warmer climate would be better adapted to warmer summer temperatures in the U.S. One of the ecotypes was vetted in quarantine and has been released in multiple sites in Florida. A newly described insect, Lepidelphax pistiae, has been imported into IPRL quarantine and is currently being colonized. This species will be evaluated for potential development as a biological control agent for waterlettuce, Pistia stratiotes. Another prospective biocontrol agent for waterhyacinth, Eccritotarsus catarinensis, has been imported into quarantine from South Africa and is currently undergoing host range evaluation.