The Lilioceris Cheni beetle was released into the wild Thursday as part of a test project to eradicate the Air Potato plant, an invasive plant that has destroyed agricultural lands, parks, gardens and residential backyards.
This invasive plant has been found throughout the warm weather states in the southern region of the United States from Florida to Texas, directly effecting Miami-Dade County. The Air Potato has also been found in Canada and Mexico.
The efforts to use the beetle to eradicate the invasive plant began in 2011 in a team effort by The Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department’s Natural Areas Management Division, the US Department of Agriculture and the TERRA High School Environmental Research Institute of Kendall.
“The Air Potato situation is urgently in need of a remedy for which currently there is none,” said Dr. Min Rayamajhi, a plant pathologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s Invasive Plant Research Unit.
Thursday’s release of the beetle hopes to be the final conclusive 12-month trial-run of using the beetles to control Air Potato.
Test results and proving whether this is successful, is expected to be announced later this year.
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