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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Passiflora spp. (Violales: Passifloraceae), banana passionfruit

Agent introduced: Glyphodes perelegans (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) = Pyrausta perelegans, passionfruit moth

Imported: 2004, 2006, 2010, 2018

Import source: Colombia

Import notes: EPA (2002) - 25 Jul 2002: application by Landcare Research to import four insect species (Zapriothrica nr nudiseta, Pyrausta [subsequently Glyphodes] perelegans, Cyanotricha necyria, Dasiops caustonae) into containment for host specificity testing to determine their suitability as biological control agents for banana passionfruit (Passiflora spp.). EPA Application # NOC02002, approved with controls 24 Sep 2002. Approval runs from January 2003 to December 2012. Landcare Research (2019e) - several shipments of the passionfruit moth were sourced in Colombia for host range testing in the early 2000s, but the process of gaining permits and shipping the moths to New Zealand proved to be fraught and uncertain. Finally, in 2006 a healthy shipment was received and another in 2010. Test results were inconsistent and an attempt was made to set up a field trial in Colombia. In November 2018 another shipment of moths was imported for testing, but these failed to lay fertilised eggs.

Release details: Not released

Impacts on non-targets: Landcare Research (2019e) - biocontrol agents need to be able to reduce the vigour and spread of weedy passionfruit species without harming the native passionfruit, kōhia (P. tetrandra) or the commercially grown black passionfruit (P. edulis). Fortunately kōhia and black passionfruit are in different sub-genera, Tetrapathaea and Passiflora respectively, from the weedy species. Glyphodes perelegans imported in 2006 and 2010 were used for host range tests in containment. However, the moth proved challenging to test, producing inconsistent results, and attempts were made to set up a more natural field trial in Colombia. Only four kōhia plants established successfully at the site in Colombia; they have grown slowly and after nearly a decade have not yet produced flowers. However, there has been no sign of them being attacked by G. perelegans.

General comments: Landcare Research (2019e) - in New Zealand the term ‘banana passionfruit’ is used to refer to a group of vigorous vines that grow up to 10 m tall and originate from the high Andes of South America. The species of concern all have edible fruits and belong in the same sub-genus, Tacsonia. The three most problematic species, and the regions where they are most commonly found, are: Passiflora tripartita var. mollissima (Wellington, Nelson and Marlborough), P. tripartita var. azuayensis (Wellington, Canterbury and Otago), and P. tarminiana (northern North Island). Less widespread species, but also of concern since they are spreading, include P. mixta (Auckland and Marlborough), P. pinnatistipula (Canterbury and Otago), P. x rosea (Banks Peninsula), and P. antioquiensis (Auckland and Marlborough).


EPA (2002). EPA application NOC02002: to import into containment four insect species (Zapriothrica nr nudiseta, Pyrausta perelegans, Cyanotricha necyria, Dasiops caustonae) for host specificity testing to determine their suitability as biological control agents for banana passionfruit (Passiflora spp.) in New Zealand. Environmental Protection Authority website https://www.epa.govt.nz/database-search/hsno-application-register/view/NOC02002

Landcare Research (2019e). Twists and turns for banana passionfruit. Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 88, May 2019 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/weed-biocontrol-issue-88/twists-and-turns-for-banana-passionfruit