A review of the Chrysanthemoides monilifera biological control program in Australia: 1987-2005

Paul O. DowneyA, Royce H. HoltkampB, John E. IresonC, Raelene M. KwongD and Anthony E. SwirepikE

A Pest Management Unit, Parks and Wildlife Division, Department of Environment and Conservation, PO Box 1967, Hurstville, New South Wales 1487, Australia.

B Department of Primary Industries, Weed Biological Control Unit and Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management, RMB 944 Calala Lane, Tamworth, New South Wales 2340, Australia.

C Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research, 13 St. John’s Avenue, New Town, Tasmania 7008, Australia.

D Victorian Department of Primary Industries, PO Box 48, Frankston, Victoria 3199, Australia.

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


Two subspecies of Chrysanthemoides monilifera, namely subsp. rotundata (DC.) T.Norl. (bitou bush) and subsp. monilifera (L.) T.Norl. (boneseed), have been introduced to Australia from South Africa and are now among our worst environmental weeds. A biological control program was established in 1987 to combat these two invaders. To date, six species of insects have been released on bitou bush, four of which have established. The bitou tip moth (Comostolopsis germana Prout) and bitou seed fly (Mesoclanis polana Munro) are now widely established in New South Wales and two other agents, the bitou tortoise beetle (Cassida sp.) and the bitou leaf roller ('Tortrix' sp.) are currently surviving in low numbers in New South Wales but only in the vicinity of their initial release sites. A total of six species have been released for boneseed, but despite repeated and often large releases, none of these agents have established in the field. Predation by indigenous invertebrates is suspected as being a key factor in preventing establishment of the foliage feeding agents in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria. The leaf buckle mite, Aceria sp., is one of several additional agents being investigated for the control of boneseed; it was approved for field release in 2005. Despite the failure of several agents to establish in the field, especially on boneseed, the biological control program has delivered some successes. The pending release of the leaf buckle mite and the targeted selection of future agents specifically for boneseed should help to counteract previous setbacks.

Keywords: Bitou bush, Chrysanthemoides monilifera subspecies rotundata, boneseed, Chrysanthemoides monilifera subspecies monilifera, biological control, bitou tip moth, bitou seed fly.


Plant Protection Quarterly (2007) 22 (1) 24-32.