Recently, DeSoto Parks and Recreation administration and staff gathered at Morgan Park to release the newest defense in the war against air potato vine, Dioscorea bulbifera . Led by Tara Anderson, DeSoto Parks and Recreation director, the group participated in the release of 200 air potato beetles, Lilioceris cheni. With many of the beautiful old growth oak, hickory and pop ash trees threatened by the rampant siege of the air potato vines, Anderson knew it was time to find some help.
Through a Florida Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry program located on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, much research has been done on these beetles native to eastern Asia. They are considered to be plant-specific and eat only the noxious air potato leaves. When the vines die back in cooler weather, the beetles will overwinter and then begin their work again in the spring. At that point, they are expected to reproduce vigorously while dining on their favorite vine.
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