Herbivore suppression of waterlettuce in Florida, USA

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Academic Press

Waterlettuce, Pistia stratiotes L. (Araceae: Pistieae) is an invasive free-floating aquatic weed found throughout the world that has been targeted for control using various methods including classical and conservation bio-logical control and, herbicides. In Florida, herbicides are the primary strategy employed by land managers, often without regard to the impact of herbivorous arthropods including Samea multiplicalis Guenee (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), Elophila [=Synclita] obliteralis Walker (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), Argyractis [=Petrophila] dru-malis (Dyer) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), Draeculacephala inscripta VanDuzee (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), Rho-palosiphum nymphaeae L. (Hemiptera: Aphididae), Orthogalumna terebrantis Wallwork (Acarina: Galumnidae), and Neohydronomus affinis Hustache (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea). A series of field experiments from 2009 to 2012 were conducted at three sites in Florida to quantify the levels of suppression by these species, using an insecticide-check approach to produce restricted and unrestricted herbivory conditions. Four of the species (E. obliteralis, S. multiplicalis, O. terebrantis, and N. affinis) were found at every field site. At the end of the experiment, plots exposed to unrestricted herbivory contained 63.1 % less biomass and covered 32.0 % less surface area compared to plots with restricted herbivory. These results indicate that naturally occurring and introduced species are suppressing the growth of waterlettuce populations in the field in Florida. Future research will examine the synergistic potential of actively managing herbicides and herbivorous arthropods to suppress waterlettuce.

Classical biological control, Conservation biological control, Pistia stratiotes, Integrated pest management, Herbicides, Waterlettuce