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Publication #ENY-853

Florida's Established Arthropod Weed Biological Control Agents and Their Targets1

J. P. Cuda and J. H. Frank2

Nonnative invasive weeds are considered to be one of the most important threats to biodiversity, second only to habitat destruction (Randall 1996, Pimm and Gilpin 1989). They interfere with crop and pasture production in agroecosystems, or alter the composition, structure, and function of natural ecosystems and waterways (Pimentel et al. 2000, 2005). The losses in productivity and associated costs of controlling invasive weeds are staggering. Pimentel et al. (2000, 2005) estimate the total cost of invasive weeds to the US economy is $34 billion annually.

Compared to the rest of the continental United States, Florida is more prone to the introduction, eventual establishment, and subsequent invasion of natural communities by invasive weeds because of its unique geographic and environmental characteristics (Simberloff 1997). South Florida’s extensive tropical and aquatic habitats, for example, are conducive to the establishment of nonnative terrestrial and aquatic ornamental plants. The Florida peninsula, which is bounded on three sides by water and the fourth by a freeze line, is essentially a subtropical “island” habitat that predisposes this region to nonnative plant invasions. Florida also is dominated by novel habitats created by intense human disturbance because of its popularity as a vacation destination. During FY 10-11, the state of Florida spent a total of $25.9 million to control aquatic and upland invasive plants on public lands (FWC 2011).

Approximately 1,200 out of an estimated 25,000 plant species (~ 5%) deliberately introduced into Florida for crop production and horticultural uses have invaded sensitive aquatic and terrestrial natural areas as well as improved pastures (Pimentel et al. 2005, Rogers et al. 2011). One of the reasons these nonnative plants become invasive is they are introduced into an environment in which they did not evolve and, therefore, lack the natural enemies that limit their reproduction (Williams 1954). Biological control reunites these natural enemies (usually arthropods) with their host plants to selectively weaken and suppress the invasive weeds.

In Florida, arthropod biological control agents currently are established on ten invasive weeds: air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera L.: Dioscoreaceae), alligatorweed (Alternanthera philoxeroides (Mart.) Griseb.: Amaranthaceae), Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi: Anacardiaceae), hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata (L. f.) Royle: Hydrocharitaceae), melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T. Blake: Myrtaceae), Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum (Cav.) R. Br.: Lygodiaceae), tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum Dunal: Solanaceae), waterhyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms: Pontederiaceae), salvinia (Salvinia spp.: Salviniaceae) and waterlettuce (Pistia stratiotes L.: Araceae) (Table 1).

Various resources on Florida’s weed biological control programs are available to county faculty. Extensive reviews have been published on the biological control programs of the aforementioned invasive weeds (Buckingham 1994, Center 1994, Van Driesche et al. 2002). Also, up-to-date information on Florida’s weed biological control programs can be found on several websites: the aquatic weeds alligatorweed, hydrilla, waterhyacinth, waterlettuce (http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/welcome.html), air potato (http://www.fleppc.org/Manage_Plans/AirpotatoManagementPlan_Final.pdf), Brazilian peppertree (http://ipm.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/BPmanagPlan.pdf, http://www.fleppc.org/Manage_Plans/2006BPmanagePlan5.pdf), melaleuca (http://tame.ifas.ufl.edu), Old World climbing fern (http://www.fleppc.org/Manage_Plans/Lygo_micro_plan.pdf), and tropical soda apple (http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/426, http://www.freshfromflorida.com/pi/tsa/images/tsa-management-plan-01-12.pdf).

References

Boughton, A. J. and R. W. Pemberton. 2011. Limited field establishment of a weed biocontrol agent, Floracarus perrepae (Acariformes: Eriophyidae), against Old World climbing fern in Florida- a possible role of mite resistant plant genotypes. Environmental Entomology 40: 1448-1457.

Buckingham, G. R. 1994. Biological control of aquatic weeds, pp. 413 - 480. In: D. Rosen, F. D. Bennett and J. L. Capinera (eds.). Pest management in the subtropics: biological control - a Florida perspective. Intercept, Andover, U.K.

Center, T. D. 1994. Biological control of weeds: waterhyacinth and waterlettuce, pp. 481–521. In: D. Rosen, F. D. Bennett and J. L. Capinera (eds.). Pest management in the subtropics: biological control - a Florida perspective. Intercept, Andover, U.K.

Center, T. D., K. Parys, M. Grodowitz, G. S. Wheeler, F. A. Dray, C. W. O’ Brien, S. Johnson, and A. Cofrancesco. 2013. Evidence of establishment of Bagous hydrillae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a biological control agent of Hydrilla verticillata (Hydrocharitales: Hydrocharitaceae) in North America? Florida Entomologist 96: 180-186.

Cuda, J. P., R. Charudattan, M. J. Grodowitz, R. M. Newman, J. F. Shearer, M. L. Tamayo, and B. Villegas. 2007. Recent advances in biological control of submersed aquatic weeds. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management 46: 15-32.

Cuda, J. P., A. P. Ferriter, V. Manrique and J. C. Medal (eds.) 2006. Interagency Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius) management plan for Florida, 2nd edition: Recommendations from the Brazilian Peppertree Task Force, Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, Florida http://ipm.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/BPmanagPlan.pdf

Frank, J. H. and E. D. McCoy. 2007. The risk of classical biological control in Florida. Biological Control 41: 151-174.

[FWC] Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 2011. Aquatic plant management. http://myfwc.com/media/2072922/AquaticPlantManage_10-11.pdf (accessed 9 October 2012).

[FWC] Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 2011. Upland plant management. http://myfwc.com/media/2072931/UplandPlantManage_10-11.pdf (accessed 9 October 2012).

Julien, M. H. and M. W. Griffiths. 1998. Biological control of weeds: A world catalogue of agents and their target weeds, 4th edition. CAB International, Wallingford, UK.

Pimentel, D., R. Zuniga and D. Morrison. 2005. Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the United States. Ecological Economics 52: 273-288.

Pimentel, D., L. Lach, R. Zuniga and D. Morrison. 2000. Environmental and economic costs of nonindigenous species in the United States. BioScience 50: 53-65.

Pimm, S. and M. Gilpin. 1989. Theoretical issues in conservation biology, pp. 287-305. In: R. Roughgarden, R. May and S. Leven (eds.), Perspectives in ecological theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Randall, J. 1996. Weed control for the preservation of biological diversity. Weed Technology 10: 370-38.

Rogers, L., M. Bodle, D. Black, and F. Laroche. 2011. Chapter 9: Status of nonindigenous species in the South Florida Environment, pp. 9-1 to 9-76. In 2011 South Florida Environmental Report, Vol. I-The South Florida Environment. South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, FL. http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_sfwmd_sfer/portlet_prevreport/2011_sfer/v1/chapters/v1_ch9.pdf

Simberloff, D. 1997. The biology of invasions, pp. 3-18. In: D. Simberloff, D.C. Schmitz and T. C. Brown (eds.). Strangers in paradise: impact and management of nonindigenous species in Florida. Island Press, Washington, DC.

Van Driesche, R., S. Lyon, B. Blossey, M. Hoddle and R. Reardon (eds.). 2002. Biological control of invasive plants in the eastern United States, USDA Forest Service Publication FHTET-2002-04. USDA Forest Service, Morgantown, West Virginia, pp.311-321. http://www.invasive.org/eastern/biocontrol

Williams, J.R. 1954. The biological control of weeds. In: Report of the Sixth Commonwealth Entomological Congress, London, 7–16 July 1954, pp. 95 - 98.

Tables

Table 1. 

Established arthropod biological control agents of invasive weeds in Florida. For higher classification and authors of scientific names of the natural enemies, see Julien and Griffiths (1998), Cuda et al. (2006, 2007), and Frank and McCoy (2007).

Weed

Agent

Type

Origin

Date1

Impact

           

Air potato

Lilioceris cheni

Beetle

China

2011

Widespread

Alligatorweed

Agasicles hygrophila

Beetle

Argentina

1964

Widespread

 

Amynothrips andersoni

Thrips

Argentina

1967

Local

 

Arcola (= Vogtia) malloi

Moth

Argentina

1971

Local

Brazilian peppertree

Megastigmus transvaalensis

Wasp

South Africa

Adventive

Widespread

Hydrilla

Hydrellia pakistanae

Fly

India

1987

Widespread

 

Cricotopus lebetis

Midge

Louisiana

Adventive

Local

 

Bagous hydrillae

Weevil

Australia

1991-1996

None

Melaleuca

Oxyops vitiosa

Weevil

Australia

1997

Widespread

 

Boreioglycaspis melaleucae

Psyllid

Australia

2002

Widespread

 

Lophodiplossis trifida

Fly

Australia

2008

Local

 

Floracarus perrepae

Mite

Australia, Southeast Asia

2008

Local

Old World climbing fern

Neomusotima conspurcatalis

Moth

Australia, Southeast Asia

2008

Local

Salvinia

Cyrtobagous Salviniae

Weevil

Brazil

Adventive

Widespread

Tropical soda apple

Gratiana boliviana

Beetle

Argentina

2003

Widespread

Waterhyacinth

Neochetina bruchi

Weevil

Argentina

1974

Widespread

 

Neochetina eichhorniae

Weevil

Argentina

1972

Widespread

 

Niphograpta albiguttalis

Moth

Argentina

1977

Local

 

Orthogalumna terebrantis

Mite

--

Native

Local

 

Megamalus scutellaris

Bug

South America

2010

Local

Waterlettuce

Neohydronomus affnis

Weevil

Brazil

1987

Local

1Date of first release or discovery. Adventive means that the species arrived in Florida from somewhere else by any means. Others were introduced (deliberately).

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENY-853 (IN779), one of a series of the Entomology & Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Extension. First published: September 2009; revised November 2013. For more publications related to horticulture/agriculture, please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/.

2.

J. P. Cuda, professor, Department of Entomology & Nematology; and J. H. Frank, professor (retired), Department of Entomology & Nematology, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


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U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.