|Air Potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) (1)|
The following is a 5-year pictorial illustration documenting the suppression of vine cover (growth), smothering effects and bulbil production due to the biological control agent Lilioceris cheni, or air potato beetle.
Air Potato beetle (Liliocersis cheni)
The following pictures were taken at the same site over a period of 5 years.
Air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) dominating a natural area in Florida.
Native plants emerging from defoliated senescing air potato (D. bulbifera) mats.
(D. bulbifera) reduced to 50% and starting to be out-competed with Florida native species.
Florida native plant species now have replaced the air potato vine. (D.bulbifera) present here is less than 20%.
Findings in this study showed that L. cheni population is capable of causing at least 82% foliar damage resulting in vine mortality and the release of the native vegetation smothering effects of D.bulbifera. There was also an average reduction of bulbil density up to 98% and bulbil size decreased by 95%. Hence the evidence to indicate that L. cheni will provide a sustainable, ecologically safe and financially effective alternative to traditional invasive plant management of natural areas in southeastern United States. However, some urban and sub-urban areas that are frequently sprayed with insecticides to control mosquito populations had less biological control impact on air potato vines on homeowner properties.
Details of this study is documented in the following publications: