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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Lauderdale, Florida » Invasive Plant Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #328544

Research Project: Identification, Evaluation, and Implementation of Biological Control Agents for Invasive Weeds of Southeastern Ecosystems

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Title: Host range of Caloptilia triadicae (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae): an adventive herbivore of Chinese tallowtree (Malpighiales: Euphorbiaceae)

item DUNCAN, JAMES - Former ARS Employee
item STEININGER, SEDONIA - Former ARS Employee
item Wright, Susan
item Wheeler, Gregory

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/2/2015
Publication Date: 3/1/2016
Citation: Duncan, J., Steininger, S., Wright, S.A., Wheeler, G.S. 2016. Host range of Caloptilia triadicae (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae): an adventive herbivore of Chinese tallowtree (Malpighiales: Euphorbiaceae). Florida Entomologist. 99(1):142-145.

Interpretive Summary: Rose myrtle, is an Asian plant that has become invasive in Florida and Hawaii. It was introduced into the USA before 1924 as an ornamental. Escaping from cultivation, this weed now poses a difficult weed to control in natural areas. This species constitutes one of the most invasive weeds threatening agriculture and the natural areas of the region. A new caterpillar, Strepsicrates sp. (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) was discovered in China and assessed as a potential biological control agent of Rose myrtle. Larvae were colonized and examined in quarantine where life history and host range or safety studies were conducted. Development time from neonate to adults when fed Rose myrtle leaves was one month. Larvae were tested on twelve non-target plant species from Florida natives, ornamentals, to economic species. Larvae completed development on several of these valued plant species. These results suggest that the host range of Strepsicrates sp. is not sufficiently specific for release as a biological control against Rose myrtle in the USA.

Technical Abstract: In its native range the invasive weed, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa is host to a suite of herbivores. One, Strepsicrates sp. (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) was collected in China in 2014, introduced under quarantine in Florida, USA and tested against related species to determine its host range and suitability for biological control. In no-choice tests, neonates fed and completed development to the pupal stage on several species of Myrtaceae, including the target weed R. tomentosa, the exotics Melaleuca quinquenervia, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, and several native species, Eugenia axillaris, and Mosiera longipes and Morella cerifera. Due the broad host range exhibited in quarantine testing, this species will not be pursued as a biological control agent of R. tomentosa.