Biological control: a promising tool for managing bridal creeper, Asparagus asparagoides (L.) Druce, in Australia

Louise MorinA,B, Michael NeaveA, Kathryn BatchelorC and Adele ReidA,B

A CSIRO Entomology, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management.

C CSIRO Entomology, Private Bag 5, PO Wembley, Western Australia 6913, Australia.


Summary

Three agents of South African origin have been released in Australia for the biological control of bridal creeper (Asparagus asparagoides): the leafhopper Zygina sp. in 1999, the rust fungus Puccinia myrsiphylli in 2000 and the leaf beetle Crioceris sp. in 2002. Community groups and land managers across Australia have embraced the biological control program against bridal creeper with enthusiasm and are actively involved in the large-scale redistribution of the first two agents, now released at more than 2500 locations across southern Australia. In contrast, establishment and growth of leaf beetle populations have so far been disappointing, possibly due to predation and limited availability of young shoots at time of release. Heavy attacks by the leafhopper are evident at some sites but high population levels are not necessarily sustained across years. The rust fungus is currently the most effective agent and has already demonstrated its ability to reduce populations of this invasive species, particularly in coastal areas. A major reduction in bridal creeper populations, combined with appropriate strategies to prevent invasion by other weeds, will significantly enhance the protection and restoration of key natural assets.

 

Plant Protection Quarterly (2006) 21 (2) 69-77.