Megamelus scutellaris (Berg) (Hemiptera: Delphacidae) biology and population dynamics in the highly variable landscape of southern Florida
Changes to the historical flow and nutrient levels of freshwater bodies in Florida have made control of waterhyacinth difficult. Biological control agents were introduced to augment herbicidal control of this plant. The newest insect agent, Megamelus scutellaris, was released in 2010, has established, and has been documented dispersing more than 6 kms away from release locations, across aquatic and terrestrial habitats. These insects were able to successfully disperse away from herbicide treated areas and across terrestrial habitats to reach new mats of waterhyacinth. Macropterous individuals were the first M. scutellaris documented at three non-release sites, indicating that the established wild populations are producing flighted individuals and are dispersing actively. Established populations appear to have reached an equilibrium density of 10.74 +/- 19.74 M. scutellaris/ m2 and this does not fluctuate with additional releases.