30-Day Public Comment Period on Proposed Field Release of Brazilian Peppertree Biocontrol Insects on Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia) is one of the worst invasive shrubs in the world, and in Florida, it is classified as both a noxious weed, and as a Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Category 1 invasive plant meaning it is currently disrupting and displacing native plant communities. The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (the Refuge) utilizes a variety of management techniques to treat Brazilian peppertree but relies most heavily on chemical control (i.e., herbicides) that is cost prohibitive and labor intensive. Therefore, to continue to meet its habitat restoration mission and goals and the purposes for which the Refuge was established, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System proposes to allow the environmental release of two insects, a psyllid and a thrips, that are host specific to Brazilian peppertree on the Refuge. While feeding, both insects cause damage to new shoots and tips thereby limiting flower formation, and ultimately, berry production which, in theory, prevents additional spread of the targeted pest plant, Brazilian peppertree. The Refuge proposes to adopt the Environmental Assessment (2,657 KB PDF) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI, 161 KB PDF) and its supportive conclusions completed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as required prior to obtaining approval and permits for the release of the two insects.

Public Review: The Refuge is seeking comments from interested parties and the public on the proposed release of two biological control agents to support the Refuge’s integrated invasive plant management program.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites the public to read and comment on the proposed FONSI by October 9, 2021. You may read the Proposed FONSI here: A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact for Field Release of the Insects Calophya latiforceps (Hemiptera: Calophyidae) and Pseudophilothrips ichini (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) for Classical Biological Control of Brazilian Peppertree in the Contiguous United States (189 KB PDF).

We want to hear from you! 

Submit your comments by October 9, 2021.

    By email to: armloxahatchee@fws.gov

    By mail to:
         A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR
         Attn: Bill Thomas
         Subject: Brazilian Peppertree Biocontrol Release
         10216 Lee Road
         Boynton Beach, Florida 33473

Thank you for providing valuable input on the proposed biological control release which helps improve the Refuge’s integrated invasive plant management program.