Brazilian Peppertree Biological Control UF/IFAS Extension Team Successfully Adapts to COVID-19 ”New Normal”

Thank you to the project collaborators and students who made our Brazilian peppertree biological control extension program a success.

The UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County, the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center and partners collaborated on an innovative approach to classical biological control of invasive Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia).  The onset of COVID-19 occurred soon after the long-awaited release of the first Brazilian peppertree biological control agent: Pseudophilothrips ichini (a.k.a. the Brazilian peppertree thrips). Brazilian peppertree is the most widely distributed and abundant invasive plant species in the Florida Everglades.  For nearly twenty years, a team of researchers with USDA ARS and UF/IFAS studied this thrips insect as a candidate biological control agent ultimately getting it approved for release in 2019.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 was a highly disruptive event that occurred as the UF/IFAS Extension team began Brazilian peppertree biological control educational outreach across central and south Florida. The team had to adapt to the rapidly changing situation while still addressing the expressed needs of Floridians.  Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, the Extension program quickly innovated and re-designed outreach to introduce the Brazilian peppertree thrips to Florida.  The team obtained grant funding for mass rearing of insects, utilized a variety of field demonstrations and educational programs, published works and professional conference presentations to meet UF/IFAS COVID-19 safety requirements for keeping Floridians safe while conducting a highly effective extension outreach program.  UF/IFAS Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin.

  • Needs Assessment (1 total, 308 respondents)
  • Field Demonstrations and Educational Presentations (3 total, 122 participants)
      • Port St. Lucie McCarty Ranch, St Lucie County, February 13, 2020 – 55 participants
      • UF/IFAS Extension Polk County, Zoom, June 2, 2020 – 31 participants
      • UF/IFAS Extension Brevard County, Zoom, June 30, 2020 – 36 participants
  • Published Works/Social Media (7 total)
  • Professional Conference Proceedings (1 total)

 Brazilian Peppertree Control EDIS Doc
Featured Creatures Brazilian Peppertree Thrips 


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Posted: March 31, 2021

Category: Agriculture, Home Landscapes, Invasive Species, NATURAL RESOURCES
Tags: #GatorDay, Biological Control, Brazilian Peppertree, Invasive, Thrips

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