Educating with Biocontrol Beetles

Liliocersis cheni

Air potato beetle, Liliocersis cheni

The Air Potato, Dioscorea bulbifera, is an invasive noxious weed in South Florida. In a previous post, I described efforts at biological control using the leaf feeding Air Potato Leaf Beetle, Lilioceris cheni. Students at Terra Environmental Research Institute, a magnet high school southwest of Miami, Florida have been enlisted to participate in rearing the beetle in large numbers for release in a laboratory at the school. Students will be learning about invasive species, conservation and insect biology and rearing. The project incorporates science, technology, hands-on learning activities and community services. The project has attracted significant corporate sponsorship. This model of partnerships with schools in service projects has many benefits for both students and communities.


About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Education, Invasive Species, Pest Management. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Educating with Biocontrol Beetles

  1. anastaciast says:

    I’d never heard of that plant. Is it native? Are the beetles?

    On a different subject; I have something interesting to share. On Tuesday we were out at Wagon Train Lake near Hickman, NE. Around five o’clock, I noticed a midge hatch was on. Teeny tiny midges. One of them landed on my arm. I looked down and saw a little guy with his wings spread. I also saw one with wings folded. I wondered if one was a male and one was a female. As I watched the one with wings spread, he started wiggling and next thing I know, he had wiggled out of his abdominal skin and left the casing on my arm! That’s what the “female” was. 🙂 With my eyesight, I was very fortunate to be able to see this and was very excited. As for i.d. I have no clue. I know it was tiny, a little smaller than the end of a Bic pen, white, with something black, perhaps his eyes. What a great experience for me.

  2. Don says:

    @Anasta this had to be a mayfly, the only group of insects which has two winged life stages. The first, called a subimago or dun, molts from the last aquatic nymphal (immature) stage, after having spent at least the better part of a year in the water developing. Then the imago (reproductive stage, spinner) emerges from the subimago, finds a mate, and (if female) lays eggs, dying soon after. You’ve observed one of the wonders of the insect world.

  3. Don says:

    See also the IOBC (International Organization for Biological Control) regional newsletter on this weed biocontrol project, link (see page 4) here >>

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