Winged wonders

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

a foreign army of 60 snout beetles was recently released into three marked plots of the Everglades in Florida. Their job is to arrest the expansion of melaleuca, a tree used for landscaping and to control erosion, that was first brought to the us at the turn of the century. The us department of agriculture has released the third batch of the imported snout beetle (Oxyops vitiosa) to devour the melaleuca. Researchers are hoping that the bugs would achieve what herbicides, fires and axes have failed to accomplish.

The melaleuca has been growing at such a rate that it has become an environmental threat to other plant life in the Everglades which is a unique ecosystem of marshlands that is home to myriad species of plants and animals.They cost more than us $4 million a year for controlling its encroachment on electrical equipment and power lines. The snout beetle is a docile, pudgy weevil that eats only melaleuca, preferably its new leaves and buds, thus arresting its spread. Researchers are planning to import other insects from Australia that feed on other parts of the melaleuca.

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