giant airplant
Save Florida's Bromeliads
A Method for Conserving Florida's Native Airplants

giant airplant

Florida's Native Bromeliads

Conservation Method

In 1989, the Mexican bromeliad weevil, Metamasius callizona (Chevrolat), was found established on native bromeliad populations in Florida (Frank and Thomas 1994; Frank and Cave 2005). Since then, the weevil has spread throughout central and southern Florida and, along the way, has caused great destruction to bromeliad populations (Cooper 2006, 2009, 2014). An attempt was made to use a biological control agent (a tachinid fly, Lixadmontia franki Wood and Cave; Wood and Cave 2006) to control the weevil (Cooper et al. 2011), but was not successful. While searching for alternative biological control agents, a giant airplant (Tillandsia utriculata L.) population was discovered in Belize that lives with the Mexican bromeliad weevil, without suffering damage from the weevil, such as the Florida form of the giant airplant suffers. Studies are now in progress to understand why the Belize form of the giant airplant is resistant to the weevil and to see whether that resistance can be bred into the Florida form of the giant airplant. However, this new line of study will require years of research in the laboratory and then in the field before there are results. Meanwhile, the bromeliads are being killed by the weevil and something must be done to protect these plants. A method has been designed to provide a means for conserving Florida’s native airplants while we continue searching for a solution to the weevil. This method was developed while working with volunteers at the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary (Titusville, Brevard County), as well as with land managers, volunteers, and scientists in parks, refuges, sanctuaries, preserves, and other natural areas throughout central and southern Florida.
Mexican bromeliad weevil
The Mexican bromeliad weevil, Metamasius callizona.

Giant airplant and Martha
Volunteer rescuing a giant airplant.

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Florida's Native Bromeliads   References  

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Last update: 17 February 2016