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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Lauderdale, Florida » Invasive Plant Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #439102

Research Project: Biological Control of Earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis) in Florida

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Project Number: 6032-22000-013-73-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 30, 2021

Objective:
1. Continue biology studies and host range testing of Calomela beetle populations. 2. Establish rearing protocols for Trichologaster and begin biology studies. 3. Continue regular collections of Calomela intemerata, Macrobathra arrectella, and Trichologaster spp. as needed to replenish laboratory colonies and obtain environmental data for biology studies. 4. Establish colonies of Macrobathra arrectella at IPRL, Fort Lauderdale, and UF-IFAS IRREC, Fort Pierce from established colonies at ABCL, Australia. 5. Synthesize and compile herbivore surveys on Acacia auriculiformis in Australia.

Approach:
Since the earleaf acacia project began with feasibility studies in 2015, significant progress has been made towards finding viable biological control agents. We have determined that earleaf acacia is a problematic invasive plant and is in the log phase of expansion, especially in southwest Florida. Foreign surveys for arthropod herbivores and pathogens have yielded several promising candidates, one of which will likely be petitioned for release to the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Biological Control of Weeds. Additional agents, after initial host-specificity screenings, have been established in colonies in Australia and will be transferred to the US for additional host range testing. The initial exploration and testing phase of the earleaf acacia project was funded through FWC cooperative agreements and is concluding. Continued support is needed to see these promising agents to fruition so that we have effective tools to help control the rapidly spreading earleaf acacia invasion. We will continue to obtain related species and test multiple candidates for their potential for biological control.