Have air potatoes invaded your property? If so, you can engage the insect world in your battle against the noxious weeds.
Residents and land managers can learn about the invasive plant and pick up a supply of air potato leaf beetles during the Air Potato Challenge from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Agricultural Center, 3100 E. New York Ave., DeLand.
The beetles are bright red, about the size of a pinky fingernail, and have a big appetite for the air potato plant whose vines can completely consume natural areas, smothering other plants and native habitat. The beetles chew through air potato leaves, leaving them riddled with holes. Researchers have shown that air potato leaf beetles are host-specific to air potatoes and will not feed on other plants.
The insects will be available for pick up only during this event. Residents are encouraged to bring a cutting of air potato for confirmation.
The free program, which will be presented by the University of Florida/Volusia County Extension, is funded by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Advance registration is required; visit http://bcrcl.ifas.ufl.edu/airpotatobiologicalcontrol.shtml. For more information, contact Laura Cash at 386-822-5778 or email@example.com.
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