University of Florida to release biocontrol against Florida’s most serious invasive Brazilian peppertree

Mike Adams spends $250,000 every year to manage Brazilian peppertrees spread over the 40,000-acre ranch where his family has developed the Braford breed of cattle since 1937. Adams recounts years when the invasive tree from South America overtook natural areas on the ranch, pushing out pasture and grasslands.

PUBLIC INVITED TO RELEASE EVENT

But a tiny insect is about to become a game changer for his property. Scientists from University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) will release the first biological control insect, the Brazilian peppertree thrips, or Pseudophilothrips ichini, against the problematic tree at Adams Ranch on Thursday, Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to noon. The scientists and Ken Pruitt, who as president of the Florida Senate championed appropriations to begin local biocontrol research, invite the public to join them for the Peppertree Biocontrol Release Celebration as they free the thrips onto live Brazilian peppertrees. Adams Ranch is located at 26003 Orange Ave, or State Road 68, west of Fort Pierce. The event and parking are free.

“It’s going to be a win-win for us and the environment,” said Adams. “The university’s biocontrol program will help us to protect our natural areas, help our cattle to have more grass, and we won’t have to apply chemicals to trees anymore.”

Former Florida Senate President Ken Pruitt to Speak

Leading the celebration will be a keynote address by former State Senator Ken Pruitt. UF/IFAS officials and scientists who have made contributions to 30 years of research culminating to the biocontrol release will be present.

The thrips has been under research for more than 10 years at the University of Florida’s Norman C. Hayslip Biological Control Research and Containment Laboratory, 13 miles east of Adams Ranch. The lab, completed in 2004, is located at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) in Fort Pierce.

Two conservation agencies alone spend $4.7 million annually to control Brazilian peppertree

Adams said his family members have had to manage Brazilian peppertree for more than 80 years. The tree is the state’s most serious invasive weed, which costs the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the South Florida Water Management District over $4.7 million every year to control. Today, more than 700,000 of Florida’s natural areas, ranchlands and highway roadsides are consumed by the trees. The densest infestations are in the Florida Everglades, according to Ronald Cave, director of IRREC.

“University of Florida researchers work as a team to study and gain approval for the release of specialized insects that will manage the invasive Brazilian peppertree,” said Cave. “Over time, the thrips, in addition to three more insects that will be released to reduce Brazilian peppertree, will decrease the need for land managers and ranch owners to use heavy machines and toxic chemicals to remove the invasive tree.”

Brazilian peppertree encroachment

Carey Minteer, assistant professor and invasive plant research leader at the UF/IFAS Hayslip Lab, said Brazilian peppertree disrupts our ecosystem by outcompeting our native plants and reducing habitat for native wildlife. Minteer works with the Brazilian peppertree thrips and with a second biocontrol insect, the yellow Brazilian peppertree leaf galler, or Calophya latiforceps. The leaf galler gained approval for distribution as well and will be mass-reared for release at a later time.

“The biological control agents approved for release have been under study for over a decade and were deemed safe by federal and state scientific authorities. These insects feed and reproduce only on Brazilian peppertree,” Minteer said. Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, ensure insect biocontrols are safe to release.

Work at the local UF/IFAS facility began over 17 years ago, but preliminary research began in the late 1980s, by now-retired UF/IFAS entomology and nematology professors, Frederick “Fred” Bennett and the late Dale Habeck. Bennett and Habeck’s tasks were overseas exploration, or searches for insects that feed on Brazilian peppertree in its native range in South America.

“The tree is much smaller in its natural habitat and does not reproduce as it does in the U.S,” said Jim Cuda, professor of entomology and nematology and Fulbright Scholar at the UF Gainesville location. Cuda’s entire career, which began as an assistant research professor in 1998, is devoted to the study of Brazilian peppertree.

Biological control successes throughout Florida

“Florida has a long and storied history of weed biological control success stories, beginning with alligator weed in the 1960s,” said Cuda. “Brazilian peppertree will undoubtedly be added to that list.”

Cuda said he has been fortunate to work on the Brazilian peppertree biological control project; he compares the endeavor to a relay race. Research began with Bennett and Habeck, who identified the thrips as a potential biological control agent. Then, Habeck and a new UF/IFAS scientist, Julio Medal, conducted the preliminary screening studies. Cuda and his technician, Judy Gillmore, developed the first mass rearing procedure for the thrips and completed the initial testing.

To perform host range studies for Florida’s Brazilian peppertrees, Veronica Manrique, a former Hayslip Lab postdoctoral researcher, worked with USDA scientists to determine the thrips’ candidacy as a biocontrol agent to Florida’s trees. Approved for release in June 2019, the first distribution of thrips took place on July 16, 2019, in Davie. More thrips have been released in Miami-Dade, St. Lucie, Brevard, Collier, Hillsborough, Sarasota and Polk counties, said Minteer.

Scientists at the Hayslip Lab have gained approval for a second biocontrol known as the leaf galler. The yellow Brazilian peppertree leaf galler was discovered in South America in 2010 by former UF/IFAS graduate student, Lindsey Christ, and postdoctoral researcher, Rodrigo Diaz, explains Cuda. “Research on the biology and host range of the leaf galler was completed by Diaz and his mentor, William ‘Bill’ Overholt.”

Overholt is an emeritus professor of entomology and nematology. He preceded Minteer’s position at the UF/IFAS Hayslip Lab. Minteer said the Brazilian peppertree thrips is the first weed biocontrol agent to be released from the lab. The second biocontrol insect, the yellow Brazilian peppertree leaf galler, will be released in the next few months, she added.

In the next year, the two insects will be mass-reared at the UF/IFAS Hayslip lab and distributed to land managers who will complete the work to control Brazilian peppertree in Florida, said Minteer.

“It is the willingness of local citizens to take part in the distribution of the biocontrol insects that is vital in the fight to control Brazilian peppertree. I welcome them to join us at Adams Ranch on October 24.

5

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Posted: October 17, 2019


Category: Horticulture, Invasive Species, Natural Resources, Pests & Disease, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Research



Comments:

Robin Koestoyo
October 22, 2021

Thank you for your wonderful comments! Mr. Croxton--please email me at koestoyo@ufl.edu We need a letter of support for an award nomination. Thank you!

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koestoyo

October 4, 2021

The fungi are endemic to Central Florida. Dr. Avery has presented on this topic at the Florida Citrus Show for the last two years. Thank you for your encouraging comments. We are excited about the possibilities.

cooking oil disposal
October 4, 2021

Hey there! I could have sworn I've been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's new to me. Anyways, I'm definitely happy I found it and I'll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

Rick Minton
October 2, 2021

Yes Good work was wondering where the fungi are found and why didn’t we know about it sooner?

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koestoyo

October 2, 2021

Hi Rick. Did you want to comment?

Rick Minton
October 2, 2021

Martin
September 18, 2021

Thanks much, Beth :)

Beth Curry
September 17, 2021

Congratulations Martine

Martin
September 10, 2021

Thanks for your kind words, colega. I am also rooting for you here!! Tons of love from this beautiful strip of land :)

Matt Croxton
August 31, 2021

Dr. Minteer has graciously volunteered her time and expertise to work with an aspiring biocontrol researcher at my high school in Florida. I'm so grateful for her investment and congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition. Outstanding Scientist indeed!

Rebecca Rogers
August 31, 2021

As a teacher in the high school that Carrie attended, North Pulaski in Jacksonville, AR, let me say how proud all of the former students and teachers are that one of their own is making such a positive impact in the world of biological science! I am also proud to see that Dr. Minteer is actively involved with the young people of today, exposing them to the fascinating world of science. Dr. Carrie Minteer, thank you for making a difference!

Alma Gabriela
August 24, 2021

So grateful to meet people like you, my dear collegue. I'm pretty sure that you'll achieve all your goals. I send you a hug from Valle de Bravo, MX.

Patrick Cavanaugh
August 2, 2021

Great work on trying to keep Florida Citrus Growers economically viable. They have weathered a lot over the last decades. Congrats to UF/IFAS!

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koestoyo

November 21, 2020

Hello. We need funding to mass raise the thrips for public distribution. Meanwhile, the insects we did raise are at work on state lands and private ranches

Janet Larson
October 10, 2020

How can we get ahold of this thrip? I live in Jacksonville Beach, at the marsh and we have a lot of Brazilian Pepper in City of Jax Beach Cradle Creek Park ( and quite frankly at my house I too, keep hacking at it) The Parks and Rec Dept of Jax Beach would be the contact I guess for this. We did a invasive BP round up one weekend day, but we barely dented the surface of this invasive at Cradle Creek. Please help

shilkaren
September 29, 2020

Hi Koestoyo, Such an amazing article. It's very interesting to read more about how AI can be used in the industry. You would love to see my python course duration and fees in pune site as well. Thanks once again.

Betty Jo Starke
September 25, 2020

This is fantastic. I would love to see the flow of the process from original elementary product and subsequent break down and by products. Isn’t Florida rich in phosphorus over by Route 60 in western side of state? Thank you for your brilliance. - Betty Jo Starke..

Yinka
September 11, 2020

Very insightful! With your wealth of experience,I trust you’ll be a great addition to IRREC

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koestoyo

August 12, 2020

Hello Asghar, I have heard from three of our scientists and none of them know about artificial breeding of Telenomus baseola. One of the scientists did suggest that you simply add those keywords to the Google search engine. They feel the answer is somewhere online.

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koestoyo

August 7, 2020

I will ask our entomologists and get back to you after they respond.

Asghar Babamir
July 29, 2020

Hello I am an Entomology PhD student at Chamran University of Iran. I am working on artificial breeding of Telenomus baseola. If you have any information about its artificial food send me please.

Egem Ozbudak
July 26, 2020

Thank you very much Şahin Hocam! Being your student was a great chance and privilege!

Şahin Alakuş
July 22, 2020

We are proud of Egem Özbudak. It was clear to see that he is going to be a scientist in the future when he was our student in high school in Izmir, Turkey.

elaine
July 18, 2020

The naturally occurring benefits were on citrus trees growing near the canopy of oak trees. This would say to me that it must be the leaves falling from the oaks to the ground that is giving the citrus trees the oak leaf extract.Therefore, it's brown leaves off the ground that you can use to make your oak leaf tea. I've just been brewing a 5gal. bucket of brown leaves, and watering my trees with the tea once a week. I've had normal looking fruit from my kumquat tree this spring already, so it might be working!

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koestoyo

June 16, 2020

Hello, have you seen any changes in your citrus trees?

suba suba
June 11, 2020

I think this is a real great blog post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

Ronke
May 16, 2020

Very good interview with lots of insight. I trust Doc. Tolu will make IRREC proud.

Kelly Babatunde
May 14, 2020

Bravo Doc. I know you will be a great addition to IRREC. More of those giant strides!

WD
May 6, 2020

Darlington oak.

WD
May 6, 2020

Mimic nature. I’m trying it myself, I have nothing to go on but instinct. I’m soaking a 5 gallon bucket full of green leaves for two days, then straining and diluting in my 50 gallon sprayer. Haven’t seen much change but it’s only been 3 weeks, once a week.

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koestoyo

May 1, 2020

It is better if the oak leaves are green.

Reginald Rothing
May 1, 2020

If I was to make oak leaf tea to spray my citrus, does it matter if the oak leaves are green or dried brown?

Jon
February 27, 2020

I have several feral citrus trees growing under oak trees in Palm City. Some may be sour oranges, but based on where my dog used to bury grapefruit I believe some are the Duncan variety. I offer these trees for a UF trial study if that would be useful.

joe H walter
January 28, 2020

Program and release in Brevard County will be at the Extension Service, 3695 lake /dr. Cocoa, on April 9th. Registration for the even will be on Eventbrite.

Stephanie
January 25, 2020

I would be curious about the rest of the layers of plants around the citrus and the varietals of oak.

Gina Hubany
January 25, 2020

What about integrating the fallen leaves into the soil? &/or using it as mulch?

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koestoyo

January 24, 2020

Where would one import such a map please?

Justin Jeannero
January 24, 2020

So is it possibly people are not seeing the forest for the trees on this one. Is it possible that the soil is healthier around oak trees than in a monoculture environment and maybe there is more beneficial bacteria and mychorizae associated with them than a field type environment. ?

Jay Reynolds
January 23, 2020

Maybe this link to the video will work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtO0Pa6tD8s&t

Jay Reynolds
January 23, 2020

Check out a poductive feral citrus population videotaped in an oak understory and you can see the benefit. Search youtube for the following, "Wild Citrus in a Florida Forest? Why It's a Big Deal."

John Wisler
January 23, 2020

If the extract of the Oak Tree leaves is effective against HLB, It would appear by developing a harvesting method for the leaves could be achieved and have the extract made into a finished spray in quanties at a processing plant like.Bayer chemicalThey being a good place to start. The challenge to Bayer et.al would be to turn this into a systemic treatment which lasts longer than spraying. Bayer et.al have technology in place which they use on the ash boer as an example.If effective systemically on HLB ,is the need to check the toxicology of the extract regarding potential human consumption.is probably required. The toxicology study would be required for sprays as well. Currently existing for other application using systemics on tree can be effective for a year with one application to the base of the tree.The average cost to do an application tree using an application of 1 ounce per 1 inch of circumference of the trunk of the tree should be affordable.

Narinder Singh Majitha
January 22, 2020

Please import 3D map of citrus + oak inter cropping method

Audrey Granahan
January 22, 2020

Would mulching with oak leaves be of any benefit?

Susan Knorr
January 22, 2020

Could new groves be set up with interplanting of oak and citrus trees? It seems like the citrus trees would have to be resprayed regularly, an expensive process.

samiha_FS
November 26, 2019

merci pour les informations

Jeanne Andre
November 9, 2019

Just saw this too late. This is wonderful. Is there a way for me to release in a residential area in Indialantic?

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koestoyo

September 12, 2019

Hello Mr. Burchianti. Thrips will be made available to the public in about a year. At this time the scientists are releases thrips during news conferences. A news conference is scheduled for October 24.

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koestoyo

September 12, 2019

PRESS RELEASE The Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program Comes to Successful Conclusion Research and extension faculty with UF/IFAS have reached successful completion of the five-year Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program. UF/IFAS project partners are: Dr. Carey Minteer (lead) with the Indian River Research and Education Center and Ken Gioeli (co-lead) at the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County. This program began in 2014 as an initiative by the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center and the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County in collaboration with Extension offices and partner agencies throughout Florida. The focus of the project involved the introduction of a new biological control agent Lilioceris cheni (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) to helped teach residents how to use the insect to manage the invasive air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera). Floridians struggled to control this invasive vine which can grow up to eight inches per day and smother native vegetation. This UF/IFAS research and extension program was paired with a mass rearing effort and distribution process that helped citizens throughout Florida. Researchers at USDA ARS are credited for discovering L. cheni as a viable biological control agent for air potato. The program has been highly successful with tens of thousands of L. cheni beetles provided to stakeholders for release. It significantly increased the general knowledge of invasive species of the people surveyed by an average of 227 percent and general knowledge about biocontrol by an average of 401 percent. Perception of the safety of biological control increased by an average of 434 percent and perceived effectiveness of biocontrol increased by 344 percent. The combination of a charismatic and effective natural enemy along with an educational program has significantly increased the knowledge about invasive plant species and the knowledge and acceptance of biocontrol as a safe and effective control method. The Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program was recognized with three national awards and one state award. While UF/IFAS has completed research and extension activities with this project, educational resources will continue to be made available online at http://bcrcl.ifas.ufl.edu/airpotatobiologicalcontrol.shtml. This website features information about insect availability from project partners. For additional information, please call Natural Resources and Environment Extension Agent IV Ken Gioeli with the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County at 772-462-1627 or ktgioeli@ufl.edu.

Avatar photo
koestoyo

September 12, 2019

PRESS RELEASE The Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program Comes to Successful Conclusion Research and extension faculty with UF/IFAS have reached successful completion of the five-year Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program. UF/IFAS project partners are: Dr. Carey Minteer (lead) with the Indian River Research and Education Center and Ken Gioeli (co-lead) at the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County. This program began in 2014 as an initiative by the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center and the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County in collaboration with Extension offices and partner agencies throughout Florida. The focus of the project involved the introduction of a new biological control agent Lilioceris cheni (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) to helped teach residents how to use the insect to manage the invasive air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera). Floridians struggled to control this invasive vine which can grow up to eight inches per day and smother native vegetation. This UF/IFAS research and extension program was paired with a mass rearing effort and distribution process that helped citizens throughout Florida. Researchers at USDA ARS are credited for discovering L. cheni as a viable biological control agent for air potato. The program has been highly successful with tens of thousands of L. cheni beetles provided to stakeholders for release. It significantly increased the general knowledge of invasive species of the people surveyed by an average of 227 percent and general knowledge about biocontrol by an average of 401 percent. Perception of the safety of biological control increased by an average of 434 percent and perceived effectiveness of biocontrol increased by 344 percent. The combination of a charismatic and effective natural enemy along with an educational program has significantly increased the knowledge about invasive plant species and the knowledge and acceptance of biocontrol as a safe and effective control method. The Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program was recognized with three national awards and one state award. While UF/IFAS has completed research and extension activities with this project, educational resources will continue to be made available online at http://bcrcl.ifas.ufl.edu/airpotatobiologicalcontrol.shtml. This website features information about insect availability from project partners. For additional information, please call Natural Resources and Environment Extension Agent IV Ken Gioeli with the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County at 772-462-1627 or ktgioeli@ufl.edu.

Barbara Fox
August 16, 2019

How fortunate we are to have such a 'treasure' in our community. The word is dependent upon such research.

Rosemary Capen
August 13, 2019

Great article. Wish we had more researchers lik you, Jonny.

JOHN BURCHIANTI
July 24, 2019

interested in acquiring the "thrips" insect for control of brazalian pepper trees

Laura Stapleton
July 18, 2019

How can I get more air potato beetles? Since I released the last batch I've found three more areas separate from the original where air potatoes are taking a hold. I appreciate any direction you can give. Sincerely, Laura Stapleton

Debbie Acevedo
June 28, 2019

Hello. I am extremely interested in obtaining as many red beetles as possible. I have over 5 acres that is overrun by potatoe vines. They are consuming our entire property. I am willing to pay for assistance in getting rid of or atleast deterring this problem. Please let me know if you can help. Thank you so much.

KIRAN TIMILSINA
April 18, 2019

Ah great initiation happening around in Florida. In Nepal our citrus groves are in the state of exhaustion. But no one giving a priority to react. https://thehimalayantimes.com/opinion/citrus-greening-nepals-groves-under-threat/

James Massey
April 13, 2019

A very accomplished career. A gentle giant that will be greatly missed.

Charles and Bobbie Cottle
April 13, 2019

We didn’t know Dr. Calvert, but his son, Victor, came surely from the same mold. An honorable, hard-working man who contributes much to the lives of others. Blessings on the family, all of you. May the memories of Dr. Calvert encourage you to continue his lifestyle.

Madeline Durant
April 3, 2019

My condolences to the Calvert family and UF Ft Pierce..

Şahin ALAKUŞ
October 9, 2018

I had the chance to be Mr ÖZBUDAK's teacher at high school. I am proud of him. I am sure he will be successful on his research.

嫩模黑丝腿控性感兔女郎之吉他美女迷人写真(15p)
March 30, 2018

正在找这个,谢谢!

synonym
December 14, 2017

I’m not that much of a online readeг to be honeѕt but your sites really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future. Cheers

panele szklane do łazienki łódź
December 8, 2017

Aw, thiѕ was an exceptionally nice ⲣost. Taking the time and actual effort to create a top notch article… but whɑt can I say… I put things off a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

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koestoyo

September 27, 2017

Congratulations Dr. He and Dr. Wright

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