Target pest: Passiflora spp. (Violales: Passifloraceae), banana passionfruit
Agent introduced: Odonna passiflorae (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae), passionfruit stem-boring moth
Import notes: Landcare Research (2019e) - researchers hope to be able to import a shipment of O. passiflorae from Colombia for host-testing around the middle of 2020.
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. To conduct host range testing for another potential biocontrol agent, the passionfruit moth Glyphodes perelegans, attempts were made nearly a decade ago to set up a natural field trial in Colombia. Only four kōhia plants established successfully at the site in Colombia; they have grown slowly and have still not yet produced flowers. However, there has been no sign of them being attacked by O. passiflorae, despite this moth killing many Passiflora tarminina (one of the most problematic Passiflora species in New Zealand) plants at the trial site.
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).
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