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A new biological control for Pereskia aculeata
Iain Peterson- Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University
Barbados gooseberry (Pereskia aculeata) is a problematic invasive in South Africa.
The plant out competes native vegetation and leads to a reduction in native plant biodiversity.
Many protected areas including national parks and world heritage sites are threatened by Pereskia aculeata infestations resulting in a large amount of resources being used to try control the weed.
Mechanical and chemical control is ineffective, expensive and unsustainable because of the plants ability to grow from small cutting and because herbicides are not translocated within the plant tissue.
One biological control agent Phenrica guerini Bechyne (Chrysomelidae) has been released on Pereskia aculeata and although the insect has established at many sites around the country, the damage inflicted by the insect appears to be minimal.
New biological control agents are required to reduce the density of Pereskia aculeata to appropriate levels.
A new potential biocontrol agent for Pereskia aculeate, Catorhintha schaffneri (Correidae) was subjected to host specificity testing.
Catorhintha schaffneri is safe for release in South Africa. An application for release will be submitted pending the results of an impact study to ensure that the agent is destructive enough to warrant the release.
For more information please see the fact sheets below:
Barbados gooseberry (Pereskia aculeata)