Advancements in Mass Rearing the Air Potato Beetle Lilioceris cheni

Insects. 2022 Jan 6;13(1):65. doi: 10.3390/insects13010065.


The air potato beetle, Lilioceris cheni Gressitt and Kimoto (Coleoptera:Chrysomelidae), is a successful biological control agent of the air potato vine, Dioscorea bulbifera L. (Dioscoreales: Dioscoreaceae), in the southern United States. Lilioceris cheni is currently being mass-reared by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry (FDACS-DPI) for biological control releases and research. The facility rears and releases over 50,000 adult beetles annually at approximately 1000 different locations. In addition to data on beetle production and distribution, studies on alternative larval and adult diets are described. Adults fed bulbils as the sole food source had reduced life spans compared with beetles given fresh air potato leaves. Adults survived without air potato leaves or bulbils for several days to two weeks depending on availability of leaves at emergence. Larvae did not survive on a modified artificial Colorado potato beetle diet containing fresh air potato vine leaves. Adults survived while consuming artificial diet but ceased oviposition. They, however, resumed egg laying less than one week after being returned to a diet of fresh air potato vine leaves.

Keywords: Chrysomelidae; Dioscorea bulbifera; biological control; invasive species.