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31 December 2021 Current and Future Biological Control Efforts Against Solanum mauritianum (Solanaceae) in South Africa
N. Venter, B.W. Cowie, T. Olckers, M.J. Byrne
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Solanum mauritianum Scop. (Solanaceae), colloquially referred to as bugweed in South Africa, remains a widespread invasive tree of global significance. Although biological control (biocontrol) efforts were undertaken from 1984 -2003 in South Africa, the programme eventually only released two agents, the sap-sucking lace bug Gargaphia decoris Drake (Hemiptera: Tingidae) and flowerbud-feeding weevil Anthonomus santacruzi Hustache (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). To date, these agents have been relatively ineffective in controlling S. mauritianum, largely due to low establishment success due to climatic incompatibility in relation to the widespread distribution of S. mauritianum. This has prompted the revival of S. mauritianum biocontrol research in 2018, with the programme focused largely on sourcing additional agents from climatically suitable regions in the plant's native range in South America. Climate matching between cooler regions of South Africa and known S. mauritianum sites in South America identified Uruguay as a promising source of new agents. Field collections in Uruguay focused mainly on Anthonomus spp. but included stem-boring and shoot-galling weevils. Low incidence in the field and difficulties in culturing candidate species temporarily precluded research into stem-boring and shoot-galling candidates, but the rearing and assessment of the flowerbud-feeding weevil Anthonomus morticinus Clark (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is ongoing. Host-specificity testing of A. morticinus has thus far confirmed a narrow host range, suggesting it has potential as a new agent.

© Entomological Society of Southern Africa
N. Venter, B.W. Cowie, T. Olckers, and M.J. Byrne "Current and Future Biological Control Efforts Against Solanum mauritianum (Solanaceae) in South Africa," African Entomology 29(3), 875-888, (31 December 2021).
Received: 2 November 2020; Accepted: 12 August 2021; Published: 31 December 2021

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Anthonomus morticinus
Anthonomus santacruzi
climatic matching
Gargaphia decoris
native range survey
weed biocontrol
woolly nightshade
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