A new candidate biological control agent for the control of Pereskia aculeata Miller (Cactaceae) in South Africa

A  new  candidate  biological  control  agent  for  the  control  of  Pereskia  aculeata  Miller (Cactaceae) in South Africa
Lumka Anita Mdodana, Iain D. Paterson, Steve Compton
Rhodes University

Pereskia aculeata is an invasive alien cactus species in South Africa. Phenrica guerini Bechyne (Chrysomelidae) is the only biological control agent that has been released against P. aculeata but other agents are required to manage this species at acceptable levels. Catorhintha schaffneri Brailovsky & Garcia (Coreidae) is a new potential biological control agent currently under review and if acceptable it will be released later this year. A species of weevil in the tribe Cryptorhynchinae is another promising candidate that was collected from Brazil in 2012. The species is currently being described and will be placed in a new genus (Manuscript name Pereskiophaga sp.). The adults of Pereskiophaga sp. feed on the leaves and shoot tips of P. aculeata and the larvae mine inside the stems  destroying  the  vascular  tissue.  Host  specificity  testing  of  Pereskiophaga  sp.  is  being conducted. Thus far two species of Cactaceae (Pereskia quesquenyana, and Opuntia aurantiaca) have been tested and no non-target oviposition or feeding has been recorded. Test plant species which prove to be suitable for oviposition will be used in further testing to see if development to the adult stage is possible.