Project Title: Rearing Hypena opulenta for Biological Control of Swallow-Wort
Mentor: Lisa Tewksbury
Abstract: Vincetoxicum rossicum (pale swallow-wort), and Vincetoxicum nigrum (black swallow-wort), are two species of invasive weeds that have expanded their distribution along the East Coast of the United States and Canada. The University of Rhode Island has conducted a biological control program for swallow-wort and has found that Hypena opulenta, a European moth species, only feeds on plants within the genus Vincetoxicum. Before releasing the biocontrol agent under research, a rearing program is being established to yield the highest survival rate of larvae. Percent survival to pupation and pupal weight were compared for two rearing conditions; rearing larvae on excised leaves in acrylic plastic bins with sterilized vermiculite as a pupation site, and rearing larvae in a ventilated cage with a potted Vincetoxicum nigrum plant and sterilized vermiculite as a pupation site. The experiment showed a non-significant increase in percent survival and average weight for the larvae reared in cages over the bins. Both methods work equally well, but in the future; rearing with cages will be preferred for Hypena because they will be less prone to crowding and disease.