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Status of Charidotis pygmaea (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) as a biological control agent of Lantana montevidensis (Verbenaceae) in Australia

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Day, M. D. and McAndrew, T.D. (2002) Status of Charidotis pygmaea (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) as a biological control agent of Lantana montevidensis (Verbenaceae) in Australia. Biological Control, 23 (1). pp. 27-34. ISSN 1049-9644

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1006/bcon.2001.0983


The establishment of the leaf-feeding beetle Charidotis pygmaea Klug and its potential to control Lantana montevidensis (Sprengel) Briquet, a serious pasture weed of central and southern Queensland, Australia, were assessed. C. pygmaea was collected in Brazil from Lantana fucata Lindley, a plant morphologically similar to L. montevidensis. Over 40,000 beetles were released over 3 years by use of caged and uncaged techniques at 25 sites throughout southeast and central Queensland. At 6 of the sites where detailed and frequent monitoring occurred, no adults were found 6 months after the release. At another 2 sites, adults were present for only 12 months. Only a small number of eggs were laid at any single site and few larvae completed development to the adult stage. No signs of insect activity were found at any site after 24 months. Comparative laboratory and experimental field plot trials with both the weedy (field host) and the ornamental (glasshouse host) forms of L. montevidensis did not show significant differences in insect performance. Assessment of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and water contents, leaf hairiness, and leaf toughness of both the weedy and the ornamental forms of L. montevidensis grown under glasshouse and field plot conditions did not show differences between the two plant forms. There were, however, differences in the percentage of adults that developed in the glasshouse trials compared to the field plot trials (55% vs 5%). Field observations in Brazil showed that C. pygmaea was found only on L. fucata and L. tiliifolia Chamisso and was not seen on L. montevidensis growing in the same region. Climate matching with CLIMEX showed that most areas in Australia where L. montevidensis is a major problem are not climatically similar to the collection sites of C. pygmaea in Brazil. Whereas populations of C. pygmaea can be maintained on L. montevidensis under glasshouse conditions, it performs poorly on that species under field conditions. Unsuitable climatic conditions and an incompatible target plant are the most likely factors affecting the poor performance of C. pygmaea. Consequently, field releases of the agent in Australia have ceased and C. pygmaea is not recommended as a biological control agent for L. montevidensis in Australia.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Plant pests and diseases > Pest control and treatment of diseases. Plant protection > Organic plant protection. Biological control
Live Archive:15 Jan 2024 02:13
Last Modified:15 Jan 2024 02:13

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