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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Lauderdale, Florida » Invasive Plant Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #443576

Research Project: Development, Rearing, Release, and Monitoring of Biological Control Agents for Controlling Old World Climbing Fern

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Project Number: 6032-22000-013-107-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2022
End Date: Sep 30, 2025

The intent of this project is to provide support for the efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and other support agencies to indentify, develop, and release effective biological control agents targeting invasive Old World Climbing Fern (OWCF), Lygodium microphyllum. This shall be accomplished through the provision of funds to ARS to 1) mass rear and release large numbers of the defoliating moth, Neomusotima conspurcatalis (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) and the leaflet galling mite Floracarus perrepae (Acariformes: Eriophyidae); And 2) develop new agents through host range and environmental testing including Lygomusotima stria (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), Neostrombocerus albicomus (Hymenoptera: Tenthredinidae), and/or Callopistria exotica (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). If/when new biological control agents for OWCF are approved and permitted for release, these agents will also be released on DISTRICT approved sites within the DISTRICT.

Procedure: USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory will provide all facilities, supplies and technical staff with expertise to: 1. Rear the foliage-feeding moth Neomusotima conspurcatalis and the leaflet galling mite Floracarus perrepae at the facility in Fort Lauderdale, FL. This may be amended to accommodate any new biological control agents approved and permitted for use on OWCF. 2. Transport and release a MINIMUM of 120,000 of these agents to DISTRICT-managed sites approved by DISTRICT Project Manager. 3. Monitor and evaluate the establishment and dispersal of the released agents through site surveys at regular intervals. The interpretation and conclusion of these surveys will be reported in the mid-year and annual reports. 4. Estimate the agent effectiveness through field surveys. These include surveys of agent population dynamics and quantification of damages to OWCF via traps for adult moths, timed larval counts, and random samples of OWCF leaflets for larvae and mites. Information and conclusions from these surveys will be included in the mid-year and annual reports. 5. Conduct host-range testing of candidate biological control agents including Lygomusotima stria, Neostrombocerus albicomus, and Callopistria exotica. These will include no-choice, choice, multi-generational, and cold tolerance testing as needed. If results indicate that the agent(s) are host-specific, a petition for field release will be submitted. 6. Submit mid-year (March 31) and annual (September 30) biannual status reports to include: a. Available monitoring information b. A map indicating release dates locations on DISTRICT sites, including the species and number released at each site. c. An update on the general status of the statewide effort to introduce effective biological control agents to help manage OWCF. d. The status of ARS efforts to identify, study, and release any new biological control agents for OWCF. 7. Submit an annual invoice with the September 30 Annual Report (single line invoicing). 8. Provide and overview presentation of ARS’ effort to establish an effect biological control program targeting OWCF if requested by the DISTRICT.