n African Entomology - Initiation of a biological control programme against Madeira vine, (Ten.) Steenis (Basellaceae), in South Africa




Madeira vine, (Ten.) Steenis subsp. (Basellaceae), is native to South America but has become invasive and problematic in many countries, including South Africa. Weedy vines are notoriously difficult to control through conventional mechanical and chemical means, so biological control of in South Africa was initiated in 2003. No agents have yet been released against this plant in South Africa but exploratory observations on the life-history and host-specificity of two leaf-feeding beetles, Phenrica sp. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) from Brazil and Lacordaire (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Chrysomelinae) from Argentina and Brazil, are reviewed here. Adults and larvae of both chrysomelids feed extensively on leaves and new growth of , resulting in leaf and above-ground biomass reductions. The laboratory host-ranges of these potential agents seem acceptably narrow, with normal development restricted to the host plant. Adult feeding was recorded on other non-indigenous species within the Basellaceae, Portulacaceae and Talinaceae. The sp. colony, being reared in quarantine, died out and re-collection has not been possible. Host-specificity studies are continuing on .


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