Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/11/2009
Publication Date: 7/1/2009
Citation: Mckay, F., Oleiro, M., Walsh, G.C., Gandolfo, D., Cuba, J.P., Wheeler, G.S. 2009. Natural enemies of Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius: Anacardiaceae) from Argentina: their possible use for biological control in the USA. Florida Entomologist, Vol. 92: 292-303. Interpretive Summary: The weed Brazilian peppertree is an invasive plant of the southeastern US invading wetlands, coastal, and disturbed habitats. This plant constitutes not only a threat to natural areas but also to agriculture and cattle production in Florida and Hawaii. This species was imported originally from Brazil as an ornamental but now has escaped cultivation and is considered a noxious weed in southern Florida and Hawaii. From 2004 to 2007 searches were conducted in Argentina for natural enemies that control the populations of this plant in its natural range. From these searches numerous herbivores are being investigated for biological control of this weed here in the US. These surveys recovered 35 species of insects and mites, 29 of which constitutes new records from Brazilian pepper in Argentina. Notable candidates include a new species of gracillariid leaf blotch miner, a thrips, a mite, a notodontid moth, and a weevil have been selected for further studies to determine their potential as biological control agents of BP in the USA. These species are being considered for introduction to the US under quarantine where their suitability for safe and effective biological control can be investigated with North American plant species.
Technical Abstract: Brazilian peppertree (BP) (Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi, Anacardiaceae) is a perennial tree native to Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The plant was introduced into the USA prior to 1900. Originally grown as an ornamental, BP is now considered a state noxious plant in Hawaii and Florida, where it is ranked among the most important threats to biodiversity in natural areas. Recent surveys conducted in northeastern Argentina recovered 35 phytophagous arthropods associated with BP, 29 of which constitute new records for BP in Argentina. A new species of gracillariid leaf blotch miner, a thrips, a mite, a notodontid moth, and a weevil have been selected for further studies to determine their potential as biological control agents of BP in the USA. The results of these surveys are summarized herein and descriptions are included of the arthropods that are considered most promising for biological control of this weed.