Diversity and impact of herbivorous insects on Brazilian peppertree in Florida prior to release of exotic biological control agents.
Brazilian peppertree, Schinus terebinthifolia Raddi (Anacardiaceae), is a South American plant that is highly invasive in Florida. The impact of insect herbivores on the performance of Brazilian peppertree was evaluated at two locations in Florida using an insecticide exclusion method. Although 38 species of insect herbivores were collected on the invasive tree, there were no differences in growth or reproductive output of insecticide protected and unprotected trees, providing evidence that insect feeding had no measurable impact on tree performance. The majority of insects collected on Brazilian peppertree were generalists, and several were serious agricultural pests.