Skip to main content

Biological Control of Parthenium (Parthenium hysterophorus) in Australian Rangeland Translates to Improved Grass Production

  • K. Dhileepan (a1)

Biological control of parthenium, a major weed in grazing areas in Australia, was initiated in the mid 1970s. Since then, nine species of insects and two rust fungi have been introduced. Evaluation using pesticide exclusion at two sites (Mt. Panorama and Plain Creek) in Queensland, Australia, revealed that classical biological control had a significant negative effect on the target weed, but the impact varied between years. In this study, I quantified the effects of biological control of parthenium on grass production. Grass production declined with the increase in parthenium biomass. Significant increase in grass production due to biological control was observed, but only in 1 of 4 yr at Mt. Panorama and 2 of 4 yr at Plain Creek. At Mt. Panorama, there was a 40% increase in grass biomass in 1997 because of defoliation by Zygogramma bicolorata and galling by Epiblema strenuana. At Plain Creek, grass biomass increased by 52% in 1998 because of E. strenuana and by 45% in 2000 because of combined effects of E. strenuana and the summer rust Puccinia melampodii. This study provides evidence on the beneficial effects of biological control of parthenium in areas under limited grazing.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author's E-mail:
Hide All
Adamson, D. C. 1996. Introducing dynamic considerations when economically evaluating weeds. , University of Queensland, Brisbane. 105.
Adamson, D. C. and Bray, S. 1999. The Economic Benefit from Investing in Insect Biological Control of Parthenium Weed (Parthenium hysterophorus). Queensland, Australia University of Queensland. 44.
Barton, J., Fowler, S. F., Gianotti, A. F., Winks, C. J., de Beurs, M., Arnold, G. C., and Forrester, G. 2007. Successful biological control of mist flower (Ageratina riparia) in New Zealand: agent establishment, impact and benefits to the native flora. Biol. Control. 40:370.385.
Chippendale, J. F. and Panetta, F. D. 1994. The cost of parthenium weed to the Queensland cattle industry. Plant Prot. Q. 9:7376.
Crawley, M. J. 1989. The success and failures of weed biocontrol using insects. Biocontrol News Inf. 10:213223.
Dhileepan, K. 2003. Seasonal variation in the effectiveness of leaf-feeding beetle Zygogramma bicolorata (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) and stem-galling moth Epiblema strenuana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) as biocontrol agents on the weed Parthenium hysterophorus (Asteraceae). Bull. Entomol. Res. 93:393401.
Dhileepan, K., Florentine, S. K., and Lockett, C. J. 2006. Establishment, initial impact and persistence of parthenium summer rust Puccinia melampodii in north Queensland. Pages 577580. in Preston, C., Watts, J.H., Crossman, N.D. eds. Proceedings of the Fifteenth Australian Weeds Conference. Adelaide, Australia Weed Management Society of South Australia.
Dhileepan, K. and McFadyen, R. E. 1997. Biological control of parthenium in Australia—progress and prospects. Pages 4044. in Mahadevappa, M., Patil, V.C. eds. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Parthenium Management. Dharwad, India University of Agricultural Sciences.
Dhileepan, K., Setter, S., and McFadyen, R. E. 2000. Impact of defoliation by the introduced biocontrol agent Zygogramma bicolorata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) on parthenium weed in Australia. Biocontrol. 45:501512.
Fensham, R. J. 1999. Native grasslands of the central highlands, Queensland, Australia. Floristics, regional context and conservation. Range. J. 21:82103.
Fensham, R. J., Holman, J. E., and Cox, M. J. 1999. Plant species responses along a grazing disturbance gradient in Australian grassland. J. Veg. Sci. 10:7786.
Hoffmann, J. H. and Moran, V. C. 1998. The population dynamics of an introduced tree, Sesbania punicea, in South Africa, in response to long-term damage caused by different combinations of three species of biological control agents. Oecologia. 114:343348.
Huffaker, C. B. and Kennett, C. E. 1959. A ten-year study of vegetational changes associated with biological control of Klamath weed. J. Range Manag. 12:6982.
Jayanth, K. P. and Visalakshy, P. N. G. 1996. Succession of vegetation after suppression of parthenium weed by Zygogramma bicolorata in Bangalore, India. Biol. Agric. Hortic. 12:303309.
McClay, A. S. 1995. Beyond “before-and-after:” experimental design and evaluation in classical weed biocontrol. Pages 213219. in Delfosse, E.S., Scott, R.R. eds. Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds. Canterbury, New Zealand Lincoln University.
McEvoy, P., Cox, C., and Coombs, E. 1991. Successful biological control of ragwort Senecio jacobaea, by the introduced insects in Oregon. Ecol. Appl. 14:430442.
McFadyen, R. E. 1992. Biological control against parthenium weed in Australia. Crop Prot. 24:400407.
McFadyen, R. E. and McClay, A. R. 1981. Two new insects for the biological control of parthenium weed in Queensland. Pages 145149. in Wilson, B.J., Swarbrick, J.D. eds. Proceedings of the Sixth Australian Weeds Conference. Brisbane, Australia Weed Science Society of Queensland.
Moran, V. C. and Hoffmann, J. H. 1989. The effects of herbivory by a weevil species, acting alone and unrestrained by natural enemies, on growth and phenology of the weed Sesbania punicea . J. Appl. Ecol. 26:967978.
Navie, S. C., McFadyen, R. E. C., Panetta, F. D., and Adkins, S. W. 1996. The biology of Australian weeds 27. Parthenium hysterophorus L. Plant Prot. Q. 11:7688.
Navie, S. C., Panetta, F. D., McFadyen, R. E. C., and Adkins, S. W. 2004. Germinable soil seedbanks of central Queensland rangelands invaded by the exotic weed Parthenium hysterophorus L. Weed Biol. Manag. 4:154167.
Norris, R. F. 1997. Impact of leaf mining on the growth of Portulaca oleracea (common purslane) and its competitive interaction with Beta vulgaris (sugarbeet). J. Appl. Ecol. 34:349362.
Page, A. R. and Lacey, K. L. 2006. Economic impact assessment of Australian weed biological control. Adelaide, Australia CRC for Australian Weed Management Technical Series 10. 150.
Sridhara, S., Basavaraja, B. K., and Ganeshaiah, K. N. 2005. Temporal variation in relative dominance of Parthenium hysterophorus and its effect on native biodiversity. Pages 240242. in Ramachandra Prasad, T.V., Nanjappa, H.V., Devendra, R., Manjunath, A., Subramanya, , Chandrashekar, S.C., Kiran Kumar, V.K., Jayaram, K.A., Prabhakara Setty, T.K. eds. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Parthenium Management. Bangalore, India University of Agricultural Sciences.
Story, J. M., Callan, N. W., Corn, J. G., and White, L. J. 2006. Decline of spotted knapweed density at two sites in western Montana with large populations of the introduced root weevil, Cyphocleonus achates (Fahraeus). Biol. Control. 38:227232.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Weed Science
  • ISSN: 0043-1745
  • EISSN: 1550-2759
  • URL: /core/journals/weed-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed