Who produces air potato beetles?
Air potato beetles are reared (produced) by the biological control lab at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Plant Industry (DPI) in Gainesville Florida. They can rear about 50,000 beetles each year and ship them to residents of Florida as well as research and conservation scientists. Dr. Emily Kraus is in charge of rearing beetles (Emily.Kraus@FDACS.gov).
How do I get beetles?
There is no way to directly request beetles. You can only report that you have air potato vine. From these reports as many residents as possible will be selected for shipments. Since FDACS produces a limited number of beetles each year this system is in place to ensure the available beetles are distributed around the state. Here is how Dr. Kraus suggests you go about trying to get beetles for your property.
1) Wait for vines to sprout and note the date.
2) About 6 weeks after sprouting start checking for beetles- here is a link to a video that may help: Air Potato Vine- Do I Have the Good Beetles? – YouTube
3) If no beetles arrive use the FDACS Air Potato Vine Reporting Form found here https://www.fdacs.gov/Agriculture-Industry/Pests-and-Diseases/Plant-Pests-and-Diseases/Biological-Control/Air-Potato-Vine-Biological-Control/Report-Air-Potato-Vine-in-Florida
Scroll down the page to find the link to the form. It will look like this:
Report Air Potato Vine in State
Complete and submit the Report Air Potato Vine in Florida form if and only if:
1. You currently have thriving air potato vine growing on your property and have confirmed the vine’s identity with our guide [ https://www.fdacs.gov/content/download/76447/file/Air%20Potato%20Quick%20Identification%20Guide.pdf ] .
2. The vine has been actively growing in the current year for over 6 weeks.
3. You see no evidence of the air potato beetle or the damage it causes.
Following these guidelines gives us a more accurate picture of where the current need is for the beetles. Feel free to provide photos of your infestation. We may ask for them to confirm vine identity and sufficient tissue for releases.
Why should I wait to report the vine?
First of all, it is the best way to help state-wide management of the vine. Second, FDACS does not provide beetles on a first come first serve basis. Getting your request in before another resident has no effect on whether or not you will be selected. Through extensive research the scientists at FDACS have found that beetles will not colonize (lay eggs) on patches of vine that are too young or too small. They know when the vine generally emerges in the various regions of Florida and ship to those areas when beetles will be most effective and as supply allows.