Hydrilla is Florida’s most troublesome invasive aquatic weed. Native to Asia, Europe, and Australia, hydrilla was brought to Florida for use in the aquarium trade. It has grown wild in Florida since the early 1960s and now infests more than 110,000 acres of lakes, ponds, and other surface waters. In September 2010, a group of University of Florida faculty led by UF/IFAS entomologist Jim Cuda, was awarded a USDA grant to research new approaches to hydrilla control. According to Cuda, the grant funds research and Extension activities on a three-part control strategy: an insect that feeds on the weed’s new growth, a fungus that damages the weed, and an herbicide that should make the weed more susceptible to both organisms. Once approved for field tests, this method will be used to fight hydrilla in Jefferson County’s Wacissa River, a spring-fed system that’s choked with hydrilla in many areas. Hydrilla research is just one of the many ways UF/IFAS is working to improve the quality of life for people and natural habitats in Jefferson County.
University of Florida entomologist Jim Cuda, right, and extension specialist Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman remove midge eggs from a glass vessel in Cuda’s laboratory, 2010. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones