2016 Air Potato Mega-Raid

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We had a fantabulous volunteer adventure on a chilly morning yesterday at the 2016 Air Potato Mega Raid!  Eight volunteers from BE. joined about 90 other members of our local community for an educational presentation hosted by SERV (that included much needed hot chocolate) and two hours of fun and meaningful service.

1The Air Potato Mega-Raid is a multi-county effort engaging hundreds of volunteers who work to remove the “potato” seeds and eradicate this harmful invasive from parks and natural areas.  The vines out-compete native vegetation and their removal is needed to restore natural habitats and processes. The Raid is hosted by the Central Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) which partners with county entities like Seminole County SERV to coordinate this major annual event.

We were happy to learn that the release of the air potato beetle two years ago has had a positive impact. Both larvae and adult air potato beetles (Lilioceris cheni) feed on the leaves and the potatoes, inhibiting the viability of the vine. At initial release sites, extensive damage to air potato was evident within three months; now further evidence shows that the beetle is making substantial impact.  More work is needed, however, and the Potato Raids continue to be an essential element of this ongoing battle.


 

What the heck is an Air Potato???

A native to tropical Asia, air potato, Dioscorea bulbifera, was first introduced to the Americas from Africa. In 1905 this member of the yam family was introduced to Florida. Due to its ability to displace native species and disrupt natural processes such as fire and water flow, air potato has been listed as one of Florida’s most invasive plant species since 1993, and was placed on the Florida Noxious Weed List by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 1999.

More from the Florida Invasive Species Partnership


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