Preliminary results of a root feeding flea beetle, Heikertingerella sp. Csiki, a candidate biological control agent of Tecoma stans L. (Bignoniaceae) in South Africa

Preliminary results of a root feeding flea beetle, Heikertingerella sp. Csiki, a candidate biological control agent of Tecoma stans L. (Bignoniaceae) in South Africa
Netshiluvhi M., Madire L.G.
Agricultural Research Council – Plant Protection Research Institute

The introduced ornamental plant, Tecoma stans (L.) Juss ex Kunth var stans (Bignoniaceae), is one of South Africa’s worst invasive weeds. It has been the target of biological control for the past decade. Several natural enemies have been imported and screened in quarantine, only three have been found suitable for release. A rust-fungi, Prospodium transformans (Pucciniales: Uropyxidaceae) was released in 2010 but did not establish, a leaf-feeding lady beetle, Mada polluta (Coleoptera: Coccinnelid) was released in 2013 and the initial establishment is confirmed and the third biological control agent, a leafmining fly, Pseudonapomyza sp. (Diptera: Agromyzidae) is still awaiting release approval by authorities.

A root-feeding flea beetle, Heikertingerella sp. Csiki, 1940, a potential biological control agent of T. stans was brought into quarantine in South Africa for further screening from Mexico. It is believed that

if this candidate agent is found suitable for release, it will exert more pressure on the target plant as it will be targeting a different niche and complement the other two leaf-feeders. The preliminary host range results on Bignoniaceae plant species show that the flea-beetle might have a narrow host range. It also has a short life cycle with many generations. More host range testing will be conducted to be certain of its suitability, biology and efficacy.