n African Entomology - Biology and host specificity of Lacordaire (Chrysomelidae), a candidate for the biological control of (Tenore) Steenis (Basellaceae)




Field surveys conducted in Argentina proved Lacordaire (Coleoptera : Chrysomelidae) to be a promising biocontrol agent against the Neotropical perennial climber, (Tenore) Steenis (Basellaceae), a serious environmental weed in Africa and Australasia. Larvae and adults feed on the leaves. The host range was evaluated by no-choice larval survival tests and adult feeding and oviposition choice tests. Sixteen plant test species were selected from the Basellaceae (4 species), Portulacaceae (4), Crassulaceae (3), Cactaceae (3) and Aizoaceae (2) families. Larval development could only be completed on species of Basellaceae ( (Villa) Sperling, Linné, Caldas). The other test plant species sustained larval development for less than 96 hours. In multiple-choice tests involving plant species outside the Basellaceae, both in the presence and in the absence of showed an almost complete preference for its natural host. Larvae that emerged from the few eggs laid on (Jacquin) Gaertner (Portulacaceae) and Haworth (Cactaceae) died within 48 hours, without feeding. In the test among the Basellaceae, feeding and oviposition preference of for and were significantly higher than for and . In multiple-choice and paired-choice feeding and oviposition tests, and in fecundity tests, displayed a significantly greater preference for Madeira vine than for . The results indicate that the host range of is restricted to the Basellaceae, with as its primary host. Consequently, we consider a safe and promising biocontrol agent for Madeira vine in countries such as Australia and New Zealand where no other Basellaceae occur.


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