Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi (Sapindales: Anacardiaceae) is a non-native perennial woody plant that is one of the most invasive weeds in Florida, Hawaii, and more recently California and Texas. This plant was introduced into Florida from South America as a landscape ornamental in the late 19th century, eventually escaped cultivation, and now dominates entire ecosystems in south-central Florida. Recent DNA studies have confirmed two separate introductions of S. terebinthifolius in Florida, and there is evidence of hybridization. A thrips, Pseudophifothrips ichini s.l. (Hood) (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae), is commonly found attacking shoots and flowers of S. terebinthifolius in Brazil. Immatures and occasionally adults form large aggregations on young terminal growth (stems and leaves) of the plant. Feeding damage by P. ichini s.l. frequently kills new shoots, which reduces vigor and restricts growth of S. terebinthifolius. Greenhouse and laboratory host range tests with 46 plant species in 18 families and 10 orders were conducted in Parana, Brazil, and Florida. Results of no-choice, paired-choice, and multiple-choice tests indicated that P. ichini s.l. is capable of reproducing only on S. terebinthifolius and possibly Schinus molle L., an ornamental introduced into California from Peru that has escaped cultivation and is considered invasive. Our results showed that P. ichini s.l. posed minimal risk to mature S. molle plants or the Florida native Metopium toxiferum L. Krug and Urb. In May 2007, the federal interagency Technical Advisory Group for Biological Control Agents of Weeds (TAG) concluded P. ichini s.l. was sufficiently host specific to recommend its release from quarantine.
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