airpotatobeetleAir Potato Leaf Beetle Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Read about some frequently asked questions.  More...

Where did the beetles come from?
The air potato leaf beetle was first discovered in Nepal and later in China by USDA scientists.

What's the life cycle of the beetles?
The life cycle begins in the egg stage, which lasts about 4 days. Larvae hatch from the eggs, feed on air potato leaves for about 10 days, and then drop to the ground where they pupate. Adults emerge about 2 weeks later, and begin feeding on air potato leaves. The adults can live for as long as 6 months, during which time females may lay as many as 4,000 eggs.


Will the beetles eat any plants other than air potato?
No, the beetles have been thoroughly tested to make sure they will only eat air potato. They will not even consume winged yam, a closely related exotic vine, or two related native plants, Florida yam and fourleaf yam.

What happens after the beetles have eaten all the air potato vines?
The population of beetles will decline as the abundance of air potato declines, because air potato is the only plant on which the beetles can survive. Beetles will not eradicate air potato from Florida, only make it less abundant.

How quickly will the beetles control air potato vines?
We don’t have sufficient experience to answer this question. However, we do know that the earlier beetles are released in the spring, the longer they will have to multiply and feed before the vines naturally die back in the winter. At several locations, we have observed heavy damage to vines a few months after beetles were released.

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