Invertebrate Fauna Associated with Torpedograss, Panicum repens (Cyperales: Poaceae), in Lake Okeechobee, Florida, and Prospects for Biological Control

J. P. Cuda, J. C. Dunford, J. M. Leavengood Jr.

Abstract


Torpedograss, Panicum repens L., is an adventive, rhizomatous grass species that has become an invasive weed of terrestrial, wetland, and aquatic environments in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Until recently, strategies for controlling torpedograss in the USA have focused almost exclusively on mechanical and chemical methods, either alone or in combination, with varied results. A survey of the arthropods and nematodes currently associated with the plant in Lake Okeechobee, Florida, was conducted as part of a feasibility study to determine whether torpedograss is an appropriate target for a classical biological control program. Overall, approximately 4,000 arthropods and 400 nematode specimens were collected. Sweep, clipped vegetation, and soil core samples were dominated by representatives of the arthropod orders Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, and Acari. Lesion nematodes of the genus Pratylenchus were commonly associated with the roots of torpedograss. None of the organisms collected were torpedograss specialists. Although classical biological control of torpedograss is feasible based on the extent of the infestation, economic losses, resistance to conventional controls, and the report of a potentially host specific natural enemy in India, the botanical position of this grass weed will require a formal risk assessment before proceeding with a classical biological control program.

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