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Environment

Beetle-Rearing Lab to Combat Invasive Vine in Fla.

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A beetle-rearing lab run by high school students may help combat an invasive plant species plaguing Florida parks and yards.

The lab run by students at TERRA Environmental Research Institute will be unveiled on Wednesday.

Miami-Dade County and USDA officials say the beetles — called Lilioceris cheni or Lili — can help fight the herbaceous air potato twining vine that's listed as one of Florida's most invasive plant species and smothers native vegetation. The leaf feeding beetles set up at the lab will reproduce in order to be released into a South Florida park later this year.

A county statement says the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale will provide the initial starter beetles in partnership with an Miami-Dade Parks' Natural Area Management Division and other agencies.

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