Air Potato Challenge: Leaf Beetles Available for the Public

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF/IFAS Extension St Lucie County and the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center are teaming up with the UF/IFAS Extension Bay County for the Air Potato Challenge event from 9 a.m. to noon June 6.

Florida residents and public land managers are invited to come out to the UF/IFAS Extension Bay County office to learn more about invasive air potato and the air potato leaf beetle and pick up a supply of beetles for use on their properties.

Preregistration is required.

Air potato is one of Florida’s most problematic invasive plants. The air potato leaf beetle is a small but formidable enemy of this invasive plant. The insect is bright red, about the size of a pinky fingernail and has a big appetite for the invasive air potato plant whose vines can completely consume natural areas, smothering other plants and native habitat.

Researchers have shown that air potato leaf beetles are host-specific to air potato and will not feed on other plants. The beetles chew through air potatoes leaves, leaving them riddled with holes.

During this event, residents and public land managers struggling with invasive air potato can come to the UF/IFAS Extension Bay County office to learn about this invasive pest plant and receive a supply of air potato leaf beetles for use on their properties. There is no charge for this program.

The insects will only be available for pick up during this event. Residents are encouraged to bring a cutting of air potato for confirmation.

What: Air Potato Challenge
Where: UF/IFAS Extension Bay County
Address: 2728 E 14th Street, Panama City, Florida
Date: June 6
Time: 9 a.m. – noon
Costs: Free
Information: Julie McConnell at 850-784-6105 or


Contact: Julie McConnell, 850-784-6105,

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.



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Posted: April 4, 2018

Category: UF/IFAS
Tags: Air Potato, Air Potato Beetle, Bay County, Indian River County, News, St. Lucie County

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