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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Lauderdale, Florida » Invasive Plant Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #437423

Research Project: Release Strategy Optimization of Classical Biological Control Agents for Brazilian peppertree in Florida

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Project Number: 6032-22000-013-64-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Nov 1, 2019
End Date: Aug 1, 2020

Objective:
1. Conduct Extension needs assessment. 2. Develop educational materials (brochures/posters/website) about Brazilian peppertree (BP) biological control agents. 3. Conduct regional Extension agent training. 4. Determine optimum release strategy for Pseudophilothrips ichini on cattle ranches and public lands throughout the state.

Approach:
Objectives 1 and 2 – Needs assessment and education materials. An Extension needs assessment will be developed to assess the needs of stakeholders in Florida as it pertains to Brazilian peppertree (BP) control. The needs assessment will be disseminated through the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, state Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas, Florida Master Gardener, Florida Master Naturalist, Florida Native Plant Society, and the Florida Invasive Species Partnership listservs to reach the widest audience possible. The data from this assessment will be used to develop more targeted education and outreach components of this proposal. Once the needs assessment has been completed, we will develop brochures and other educational information for the BP biocontrol insect species. We will also launch a Brazilian peppertree biological control website. Information will be available to the public through printed brochures, public presentations, and the BP biological control project website. Objective 3 - Train livestock Extension agents. Training of livestock and other interested Extension agents in the regions of Florida where Brazilian peppertree is present. Training will consist of half day workshops involving Extension agents and public land managers. At least 4 training days will be conducted, each one focusing on a different region in Florida to ensure training of the most Extension agents possible. Training of Extension agents will help provide support for landowners that have BP thrips released on their land. Objective 4 - Determine optimum release size/strategy for Pseudophilothrips ichini. Mass rearing of Pseudophilothrips ichini will occur in large outdoor screened tents at the University of Florida Biological Control Research and Containment Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Florida, and the USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Davie, Florida, following protocols developed during quarantine testing. These insects will be used for release in the state. The first year we will focus on cattle ranches and public lands (state and federal). Years 2 and 3 will broaden the availability to additional landowners with large BP infestations.