Brazilian peppertree, Schinus terebinthifolia Raddi (Anacardiaceae), a perennial woody plant native to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, has become one of the most invasive weeds in Florida. A leaflet pit galling psyllid, Calophya terebinthifolii Burckhardt & Basset (Hemiptera: Calophyidae), has been identified as a potential biological control agent for Brazilian peppertree. However, biological information on the psyllid, including its life history, rearing procedures and potential distribution, is lacking. This type of information is essential when importing an insect for biological control purposes. From May–Aug 2009, field and laboratory research was conducted in Gaspar, Santa Catarina, Brazil with psyllids collected from the Atlantic coastal region of Santa Catarina. Laboratory studies on the psyllid in Brazil focused on: female fecundity (55.3 ± 8.9 eggs/female), the number and size of the immature stages, age-specific survivorship, and mean generation time (43.7 ± 1.2 days). Preliminary evidence from feeding trials suggests this psyllid from the Atlantic coastal region of Santa Catarina is locally adapted to Brazilian peppertree plants of haplotype A, which is one of the genetic types that invaded Florida. Ecological niche modelling with MaxEnt confirmed there was climatic overlap between Florida and the native range of the psyllid in South America. Using collection and survey locations of the psyllid in its native range and point locations for haplotype A plants in Florida, a map was created that predicted Volusia, coastal Pasco and Hernando counties, and a small section of southwestern Polk county as suitable locations for establishment of the psyllid if it is approved for release as a biocontrol agent.
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Vol. 96 • No. 1