Biological Control Insects for Melaleuca quinquenervia

Biological Control Insects for Melaleuca quinquenervia

Biological Control Insects of Invasive Plants: Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia)

 

Melaleuca is a tree that can grow in terrestrial and aquatic habitats. It was introduced into Florida from Australia. Having no natural "biological controls" in Florida, this tree is literally filling in the Everglades, having taken over hundreds of thousands of acres so far. The first step in biological control is conducting surveys in the pest's natural range, and while doing this step, researchers with the biological program found over 450 insects feeding on the tree in Australia.

The first insect to pass the quarantine process was a beetle, the melaleuca weevil (Oxyops vitiosa). It was released into the Everglades by USDA, University of Florida, and Army Corps of Engineers researchers in 1997. The beetle quickly established itself and became abundant, causing significant damage to melaleuca trees. The second insect to be released was the melaleuca psyllid (Boreioglycaspis melaleucae). It was released in 2002 and, like the weevil, quickly became established and damaging melaleuca trees. In 2005 the third agent, the melaleuca bud-gall fly (Fergosonina turneri) was released, but did not become established.

    In 2002, it is believed that the bugs, above, are gathering forces and making headway.

  • Oxyops vitiosa, Melaleuca snout beetle, adult on melaleuca leaf
  • Oxyops vitiosa, Melaleuca snout beetle, two adults feeting on melaleuca leaf
  • Oxyops vitiosa, Melaleuca snout beetle,larva feeding on melaleuca leaf
  • Oxyops vitiosa, Melaleuca snout beetle, larvae feeding on melaleuca leavesrong
  • Oxyops vitiosa, Melaleuca snout beetle, eggs on melaleuca leaves
  • Oxyops vitiosa, Melaleuca snout beetle, Oxyops feeding damage on melaleuca leaves