Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact for Field Release of Two Biological Control Agents Boreioglycaspis



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Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact 

for 

Field Release of Two Biological Control Agents Boreioglycaspis 

melaleucae Moore (Hemiptera: Psyllidae) and Lophyrotoma zonalis 

Rohwer (Hymenoptera: Pergidae) for the Control of Melaleuca 

quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T. Blake (Myrtales: Myrtaceae) in South Florida 

Environmental Assessment 

January 2002 

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection 



Service (APHIS), is proposing to issue permits to the USDA, Agricultural Research 

Service (ARS) for the field release of two biological control agents (Boreioglycaspis 



melaleucae and Lophyrotoma zonalis) to control Melaleuca quinquenervia populations in 

the State of Florida.  Each agent would be released under authority of a separate permit. 

 

Melaleuca was introduced into Florida from its native Australia as an ornamental, for 



erosion control, and to convert wetlands into productive forest land.  It has since replaced 

native plant species and is causing unforeseen damage to the fragile wetland communities 

of South Florida. 

 

The area of Florida infested with melaleuca includes the Okeechobee Waterway, the 



Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, and the remainder of the State south 

of State Road 60 between Vero Beach and Tampa. 

 

The alternatives available to APHIS are No Action, Issue Permit, and Issue Permit with 



Conditions.  Because of the action being proposed, the Issue Permit and the Issue Permit 

with Conditions alternatives will result in the release of the biological control agents into 

the environment.  APHIS has therefore analyzed the potential effects of the release of the 

agents into the environment.  The No Action alternative, as described in the 

environmental assessment (EA), is an ongoing integrated program that has been 

described and analyzed in an EA prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE); 



Environmental Assessment for an Integrated Approach to Melaleuca Management in the 

State of Florida (DACW17-94-D-0019), 1996.  This integrated program includes the 

field release of another biological control agent, Oxyops vitiosa, which was analyzed in 

an EA prepared by APHIS; Field Release of Oxyops vitiosa (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), 

a Nonindigenous Weevil for Biological Control of Melaleuca quinquenervia (Myrtaceae).  

These two EAs and their associated Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI) were 

incorporated into the EA for which this FONSI is written. 

 

I have decided to issue the permit for the field release of B. melaleucae without 



conditions, and not to issue the permit for the field release of L. zonalis at this time.  The 

reasons for my decision are: 

 

•  Both biological control agents are sufficiently host specific and they pose 



relatively little, if any, threat to the biological resources of the project area.  

Although there may be some feeding on species closely related to Melaleuca 

quinquenervia, and possibly some honeydew production, neither have been 

shown to complete their life cycle on other species in Florida. 

•  Neither species will disproportionately affect minority or low- income 

populations, nor will they disproportionately affect children or result in any 

environmental health risks or safety risks to children.   

•  B. melaleucae poses no threat to the health of humans or wild or domestic 

animals. 

•  Neither species is likely to adversely affect endangered or threatened species 

or their habitat.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concurred with this 

conclusion. 

•  Neither species should have a direct adverse effect on the cultural, historical, 

or anthropological resources of the project area.  Any effects would be 

indirect and should be beneficial. 

•  While there is not total assurance that the release of L. zonalis and B. 



melaleucae into the environment may be irreversible, there is no evidence that 

either organism will cause any adverse environmental effects.  

•  Because L. zonalis is known to produce lophyrotomin, the petitioner has 

decided not to release L. zonalis into the environment until more data can be 

obtained on the potential for adverse effects to people or domestic animals. 

 

When more data that will clarify the potential of L. zonalis to adversely affect humans 



and domestic animals become available, I will reevaluate my decision on not to issue the 

permit for field release of L. zonalis with the appropriate NEPA documentation. 

 

Based on the analysis found in the EA, issuance of a permit for the field release of 



Boreioglycaspis melaleucae without conditions will not have a significant impact on the 

quality of the human environment. 

 

 

 



 

 

_________________________________ 



   __________________ 

Michael J. Firko 

 

 

 



 

 

 



 

Date 


Assistant Director 

Permits and Risk Assessment 

APHIS Plant Health Programs 

Plant Protection and Quarantine 



 

 

 



 

Field Release of Two 

Biological 

Control Agents 

Boreioglycaspis melaleucae 

Moore (Hemiptera: 

Psyllidae) and Lophyrotoma 

zonalis Rohwer 

(Hymenoptera: Pergidae) 

for the Control of Melaleuca 

quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T. 

Blake (Myrtales: Myrtaceae) 

in South Florida 

 

Environmental Assessment 

February 2002 

United States 

Department of 

Agriculture 

 

Marketing and 

Regulatory 

Programs 

 

Animal and  



Plant Health 

Inspection 

Service 

 

 



 



Table of Contents 

 

1 Purpose and Need for Action........................................................................................ 1-1 



1.1 Purpose and Need .................................................................................................. 1-1 

1.2  Related Documents ............................................................................................... 1-1 

1.3 Decisions to be Made............................................................................................. 1-2 

1.4 Relevant Issues....................................................................................................... 1-2 

1.5 Permits and Licenses.............................................................................................. 1-3 

2 Alternatives Including the Proposed Action................................................................. 2-1 

2.1  Introduction........................................................................................................... 2-1 

2.2 Alternatives Analyzed............................................................................................ 2-1 

2.2.1  No Action....................................................................................................... 2-1 

2.2.2  Issue Permit.................................................................................................... 2-1 

2.2.3  Issue Permit with Conditions......................................................................... 2-1 

2.3 Other Alternatives.................................................................................................. 2-2 

2.4 Comparison of Alternatives ................................................................................... 2-2 

3 Affected Environment................................................................................................... 3-1 

3.1 Introduction............................................................................................................ 3-1 

3.2 Biological Resources ............................................................................................. 3-1 

3.2.1 Mesic Temperate Hammock ........................................................................... 3-2 

3.2.2 Pine Rocklands................................................................................................ 3-2 

3.2.3 Mesic Pine Flatwoods ..................................................................................... 3-2 

3.2.4 Hydric Pine Flatwoods.................................................................................... 3-2 

3.2.5 Freshwater Marshes and Wet Prairies............................................................. 3-3 

3.2.6 Flowing Water Swamps.................................................................................. 3-3 

3.2.7 Pond  Swamps................................................................................................. 3-3 

3.2.8 Seepage Swamps............................................................................................. 3-4 

3.2.9 Coastal Salt Marsh .......................................................................................... 3-4 

3.3 Endangered and Threatened Species ..................................................................... 3-4 

3.4  Cultural, Historical, and Archeological Resources............................................... 3-4 

4 Environmental Consequences....................................................................................... 4-1 

4.1 Introduction............................................................................................................ 4-1 

4.2 Effects of the No Action Alternative ..................................................................... 4-1 

4.2.1 Biological Resources ...................................................................................... 4-1 

4.2.2 Threatened and Endangered Species .............................................................. 4-2 

4.2.3 Cultural, Historical, and Archaeological Resources ....................................... 4-2 

4.3 Effects of the Issue Permit Alternative .................................................................. 4-2 

4.3.1 Biological Resources ...................................................................................... 4-2 

4.3.1.1 Lophyrotoma zonalis................................................................................ 4-3 

4.3.1.2 Boreioglycaspis melaleucae..................................................................... 4-4 

4.3.2 Threatened and Endangered Species .............................................................. 4-4 

4.3.3 Cultural, Historical, and Archaeological Resources ....................................... 4-4 

4.4 Issue Permit with Conditions................................................................................. 4-5 

4.4.1 Biological Resources ...................................................................................... 4-5 

4.4.2 Threatened and Endangered Species .............................................................. 4-5 



 

ii 


4.4.3 Cultural, Historical, and Archaeological Resources ....................................... 4-5 

4.5 Unavoidable Adverse Effects ................................................................................ 4-5 

4.6 Relationship of Short-Term Uses and Long-Term Productivity............................ 4-5 

4.7 Irreversible or Irretrievable Commitments of Resources....................................... 4-6 

4.8 Other Considerations ............................................................................................. 4-6 

5 List of Preparers............................................................................................................ 5-1 

6 List of Agencies and Persons Consulted....................................................................... 6-1 

Appendix A References .................................................................................................. A-1 

Appendix B Fish and Wildlife Service Concurrence...................................................... B-1 


    

Purpose and Need 1 - 1 



 1 Purpose and Need for Action 

 

1.1 Purpose and Need 

 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health 



Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) is proposing 

to issue permits to the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for the field 

release of two biological control organisms with the potential to help control 

Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T. Blake (Myrtales: Myrtaceae) populations in 

the State of Florida. 

 

Melaleuca quinquenervia was originally introduced into Florida from Australia in 

the early 1900's as an ornamental and was later planted along dikes and levees for 

erosion control, as well as to convert wetlands into productive forest lands.  

Melaleuca has since spread throughout South Florida, displacing native plant and 

animal species, and threatening the stability of the Everglades ecosystem. 

 

The organisms for which permits are being sought are Lophyrotoma zonalis 



Rohwer (Hymenoptera: Pergidae), a sawfly native to Australia and 

Boreioglycaspis melaleucae Moore (Hemiptera: Psyllidae), a psyllid native to 

Australia.  Releases are proposed in South Florida in areas of melaleuca 

infestation. 

 

1.2  Related Documents 

 

In January, 1996, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), Jacksonville District 



prepared an environmental assessment: Environmental Assessment for an 

Integrated Approach to Melaleuca Management in the State of Florida 

(DACW17-94-D-0019), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1996.  The COE EA and 

the associated Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) are being incorporated 

into this EA by reference. 

 

The COE EA and FONSI were prepared to assess the possible environmental 



impacts of an integrated approach to the management and control of melaleuca in 

or along the Okeechobee Waterway, the Central and Southern Florida Flood 

Control Project, and the State of Florida. 

 

The alternatives analyzed in the COE EA were: No Action, Mechanical Control, 



Physical Control, Biological Control, Chemical Control, and Integrated Control.  

The COE EA proposed action of Integrated Control permitted the flexibility 

necessary for applying different methods based on site specific conditions, 

including wetlands, endangered or threatened species, or historical, cultural, or 

archeological resources. 


    

Purpose and Need 1 - 2 

 

This EA's proposed action of issuing the permits necessary for the field release of 



the specific biological control agents will only analyze the biological control 

alternative and the possible effects of either issuing the permits for the release of 

the agents or not issuing the permits. 

 

1.3 Decisions to be Made 

 

The decision that must be made by APHIS is whether or not to issue the permits 



for field release of the biological control organisms or to issue the permits with 

conditions (mitigative measures).  Each permit is being considered separately but 

because the proposed action is the same in each case, they are being assessed in a 

single EA. 

 

The permit applications were submitted by the USDA Agricultural Research 



Service (ARS).  The permit applicants will conduct the actual field release of the 

organisms under conditions specified on the permits issued by APHIS.  This EA 

will examine the possible environmental impacts of the field release of the 

organisms since that action will be the direct result of the issuance of the permit. 

 

1.4 Relevant Issues 

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1996, identified the following as issues in the 



total melaleuca control proposal: 

 

1. Biological Resources 



2.  Threatened and Endangered Species 

3.  Cultural, Historical, and Archeological Resources 

4. Water Quality 

5.  Hazardous and Toxic Wastes 

6. Aesthetic Resources 

7. Recreation 

8.  Noise, and  

9. Air Quality 

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1996, determined that biological control 



would have no adverse affect on the issues of Hazardous and Toxic Wastes, 

Noise, and Air Quality.  Refer to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1996, for more 

information on these issues. 

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1996 also determined that biological control 



of melaleuca would have a positive long-term effect on water quality from better 

natural filtration through restored wetlands, aesthetic resources from natural 

succession, and recreation through an increase in recreational opportunities. 


    

Purpose and Need 1 - 3 

 

This EA will deal in detail with the remaining issues of: 



 

1.  Biological Resources because U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1996, 

determined that there may be host specificity issues and adverse effects to 

humans and domesticated animals. 

2.  Threatened and Endangered Species because requirements of Section 7 of 

the Endangered Species Act to consult regarding the proposed action. 

3.  Cultural, Historical, and Archaeological Resources because U.S. Army 

Corps of Engineers, 1996, identified possible effects due to secondary 

activities such as clearing. 

 

1.5 Permits and Licenses 

 

A permit from APHIS is required for the field release of phytophagous biological 



control agents.  No other Federal permits or licenses are required. 

 


 

Alternatives 2 - 1 



2 Alternatives Including the Proposed Action 

 

2.1  Introduction 

 

The alternatives described in this Chapter are those available to APHIS.  Because 



the issuance of a permit by APHIS is expected to result in the field release of the 

biological control organisms, our analysis of the effects in Chapter 4 will be on 

the possible effects of the actual field release of the organisms.  A summary of 

those possible effects can be found in Table 1, at the end of this Chapter. 



2.2 Alternatives Analyzed 

 

2.2.1  No Action 

 

Under this alternative, APHIS would not issue a permit for the field release of 



Lophyrotoma zonalis or Boreioglycaspis melaleucae.  Each permit application 

is being considered separately.  No action is possible for either, or both, of the 

organisms dependent upon the potential environmental impacts. 

 

Because there are already actions underway in Florida to control melaleuca, 



those actions would continue.  Also continuing would be the field release of 

Oxyops vitiosa.  Incorporated by reference is the environmental assessment 

Field Release of Oxyops vitiosa (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a 

Nonindigenous Weevil, for Biological Control of Melaleuca quinquenervia 

(Myrtaceae) and the associated FONSI, USDA APHIS, 1997. 

 

2.2.2  Issue Permit 

 

Under this alternative APHIS would issue permits for the field release of 



Lophyrotoma zonalis and/or Boreioglycaspis melaleucae.  Each permit 

application is being considered separately.  Issuance of a permit is possible for 

either, or both, of the organisms dependent upon the potential environmental 

impacts examined in this EA. 

 

2.2.3  Issue Permit with Conditions 

 

Under this alternative APHIS would issue permits for the field release of 



Lophyrotoma zonalis and/or Boreioglycaspis melaleucae with conditions that 

would mitigate potential environmental effects.  This may be required if there 

was a possibility for damage to nontarget plants.  For instance, a permit may 

be issued which would limit the number of release sites to one or two sites.  

The applicant would also be required to monitor those sites on a regular basis 


 

Alternatives 2 - 2 

to watch for damage to nontarget plants.  If the damage to the nontarget plants 

was serious, the applicant may be required to eradicate the organism. 

 

Each permit application is being considered separately.  Issuance of a permit 



with conditions is possible for either, or both, of the organisms dependent 

upon the potential environmental impacts examined in this EA. 



2.3 Other Alternatives 

 

The alternatives being examined in this EA are those which are available to 



APHIS as the permitting agency.  Because of the action APHIS may take 

(issuance of a permit), the analysis of the potential environmental effects will 

focus on the action which would result - the field release of the biological control 

organism.  

 

Other alternatives to melaleuca control (including biological control) were 



analyzed in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1996,  and for the release of a specific 

biological control organism (Oxyops vitiosa) in APHIS, 1997. 



2.4 Comparison of Alternatives 

 

The following table summarizes the alternatives and compares their potential 



environmental effects. 

 




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