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ARS Home » Plains Area » Kerrville, Texas » Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory » LAPRU » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #353641

Research Project: Cattle Fever Tick Control and Eradication

Location: Livestock Arthropod Pests Research

Title: Biotic and abiotic factors influencing infestation levels of the arundo leafminer, Lasioptera donacis, in its native range in Mediterranean Europe

item MARSHALL, MADELINE - University Of Texas Rio Grande Valley
item Goolsby, John
item VACEK, ANN - University Of Texas Rio Grande Valley
item KASHEFI, JAVID - Non ARS Employee
item Smith, Lincoln
item BADILLO, ISMAEL - Texas A&M Agrilife
item REILLY, FRANCIS - Non ARS Employee
item Perez De Leon, Adalberto - Beto
item RACELIS, ALEXIS - University Of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Submitted to: Subtropical Agriculture and Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2018
Publication Date: 5/7/2018
Citation: Marshall, M., Goolsby, J., Vacek, A.T., Mastoras, A., Kashefi, J., Chaskopoulou, A., Smith, L., Badillo, I., Reilly, F.J., Perez De Leon, A.A., Racelis, A. 2018. Biotic and abiotic factors influencing infestation levels of the arundo leafminer, Lasioptera donacis, in its native range in Mediterranean Europe. Subtropical Agriculture and Environments. 69:8-18.

Interpretive Summary: Arundo donax L., also known as giant reed and carrizo cane, is native to Mediterranean Europe. It has become naturalized and invasive in many tropical, subtropical, and warm-temperate regions of the world. Arundo donax was introduced into North America from Mediterranean Spain in the early 1500s by colonists for use as roof thatching and quickly became naturalized. It is now found throughout the southern half of the United States from Maryland to California, but is most invasive in the in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Arundo donax is an extremely invasive weed of riparian habitat, drainage ditches and irrigation canals of the Rio Grande River Basin of Texas and Mexico (RGB). Arundo donax has historically dominated these habitats where it competes for scarce water resources and reduces riparian biodiversity. Arundo donax also facilitates the invasion of cattle fever ticks from Mexico into Texas, and impedes law enforcement activities along the international border. Biological control of A. donax with insects may be the best long-term option for managing this highly invasive weed. A bi-national biological control program was initiated in 2009. Two specialist, insect biological control agents from the native range of A. donax in Spain, the arundo wasp, Tetramesa romana and the arundo scale, Rhizaspidiotus donacis have been released and established in Texas and Mexico, as well as in California. A third specialist insect, the arundo leafminer, Lasioptera donacis was permitted and released in Texas. The arundo leafminer feeds on leaves causing early defoliation. Defoliation is expected to increase light penetration and therefore stimulate regrowth of native riverine plants. Transition of the riverine environment back to native vegetation conserves water, reduces risk of cattle fever tick invasion, and increase visibility of the international border for law enforcement. Thus far, the arundo leafminer has failed to establish on the Rio Grande. Therefore to aid the establishment of the leafminer, studies were conducted in the native range in Greece to determine which environmental and weather variables were most suitable for this biological control agent. The leafminer was common and damaging at all sites, including sites that had been recently mowed, but reached highest population levels adjacent to running freshwater streams. This study shows that sites along the Rio Grande in Texas should be suitable for the leafminer. Releases of the arundo leafminer are on-going in Texas.

Technical Abstract: Lasioptera donacis is a biological control agent of Arundo donax, which is an invasive weed in the riparian habitats of the Rio Grande Basin of Texas and Northern Mexico. Field research was conducted in the native range of L. donacis in Mediterranean Europe to evaluate the biotic and abiotic factors that influence its local infestation levels. Lasioptera donacis feeding damage was documented on 40.4 and 67.8 % of dead and decaying leaf sheaths respectively across all sites. Lasioptera donacis was active in all locations including highly disturbed sites, but showed a slight preference for sites near running freshwater sources and lower infestation levels adjacent to salt water sources. The environmental preferences of L. donacis in Europe are similar to conditions in the Rio Grande Basin and Southwestern U.S. where A. donax is invasive.