Monday, September 10, 2007

Dancing With The Weevil

The Miami Herald is reporting that researchers are testing a new biological control to combat a beetle that is damaging plants throughout the southern half of Florida. The Mexican weevil, Metamasius callizona has been attacking bromeliads since it became established in Florida back in the 1990s. Howard Frank, one of the scientists leading the search for a biocontrol, links the weevil's arrival in Florida with repeated importations of non-native Tillandsia plants. Unfortunately the weevil has gone on to attack native Tillandsia species, including some that are endangered. Because the bromeliads are epiphytes, they typically grow all over the surfaces of trees and other plants, making pesticide application a logistical nightmare. Frank is hoping he can instead combat the weevil using a parasitizing fly, Lixadmontia franki, discovered in the Honduras.

Thanks to the perpetually luminous Mr. Sun for sending in a link to this story.

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