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Establishment and impact of insect agents deployed for the biological control of invasive Asteraceae: prospects for the control of Senecio madagascariensis

Egli, Daniella, Olckers, Terence
BioControl 2017 v.62 no.5 pp. 681-692
Chrysomelidae, Curculionidae, Senecio madagascariensis, Tephritidae, Tortricidae, agricultural land, biological control, herbivores, insects, probability, weeds, Australia, Canada, Hawaii, New Zealand, South Africa
Several invasive Asteraceae have been targeted for biological control worldwide, with variable success. Senecio madagascariensis Poiret, which invades agricultural lands in Australia and Hawaii, is a recent target. Since several potential insect agents were recorded in the plant’s native range in South Africa, we assessed biocontrol efforts against asteraceous weeds to determine those most likely to deliver success. Some 108 insect species, from five orders and 23 families, were deployed against 38 weed taxa, mostly in the mainland USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Coleoptera (mainly Curculionidae and Chrysomelidae), Diptera (Tephritidae) and Lepidoptera (Tortricidae) featured the most. Despite high establishment success (73% of releases across countries), only 37% of successful releases achieved meaningful impact. Although root-feeding and stem-feeding insects appeared to be the best candidates, neither insect family nor feeding guild significantly influenced the probability of success. This synthesis of the global contribution of different guilds of specialist herbivores to the management of invasive Asteraceae is guiding the selection of candidate agents for the biocontrol of S. madagascariensis in Australia.