Water-Related News

Hillsborough County releases beetles to combat air potato at two County Parks

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Three hundred Air Potato Leaf Beetles (Lilioceris cheni) have been released into Alderman's Ford County Park and Rhodine Scrub Nature Preserve to combat the non-native invasive air potato plant. Conservation Services' staff anticipates that the beetles will act as a biological control and feast on the vines to help control it.

The beetles were supplied from the Florida Department of Agriculture - Division of Plant Industry.

Air potato vines can grow to more than 20 meters in length, and have the ability to take over areas of natural vegetation where they completely smother, shade and choke out native plants. They could potentially cause collapse of native vegetation if left unattended.

A common control method is to spray and cut the non-native invasive air potato plant as part of natural habitat management. But the aggressive growth of the vines (reported growing up to one foot in one day) makes it very challenging to keep up with.

The University of Florida/IFAS Extension Service offers a resource on the air potato leaf beetle.
The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council offers an air potato management plan.

Photo: Air Potato Leaf Beetles (Lilioceris cheni) released into Alderman's Ford County Park (Source: Hillsborough County)