Suitability of defoliating beetle on the Mexican sunflower

Tshililo Mphephu- ARC Plant Protection Research Institute

(Tithonia diversifolia) (Hemsl) A.Gray (Asteraceae), commonly known as Mexican sunflower, is a perennial bushy plant of Mexican and Central American origin.

It has become naturalised in South Africa, particularly in Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces where it has become a problematic aggressive weed.

A biological control programme against Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) was initiated in South Africa in 2007.

The tortoise beetle, (Physonota maculiventris - Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Chrsomelidae), was initially selected as a promising candidate agent and imported into South Africa in 2010 for host-specificity testing in quarantine.

Tests carried out on the beetle so far have shown positive results, including severe damage by the adults and immature stages to the plant’s leaves.

For more information see the fact sheet below:

Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia)

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