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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Cirsium arvense (Asterales: Asteraceae), Californian thistle

Agent introduced: Lema cyanella (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), Californian thistle leaf beetle

Imported: 1981, 1983 (?), 1990

Import source: Canada, 1981, 1983

Released: 1983, early 1990's

Release details: Cameron et al. (1989), Hayes (2007b) - one release from the 1981 importation was made in 1983 in a field cage at Winchmore (Mid Canterbury). Released widely throughout New Zealand from the 1990 importation.

Establishment: Cameron et al. (1989), Hayes (2007b) - the 1983 release did not establish. Hayes (2007a, 2007b) - establishment at one site in Auckland resulted from the releases in the 1990's, though numbers remain low. Landcare Research (2017g) - only established at one site near Auckland from which it is dispersing. Landcare Research (2019i) - possibly also established at one site in the Hawke's Bay.

Impacts on target: Hayes (2007b) - can cause heavy damage when kept on caged plants, but in the field the level of damage appears inconsequential to the plant. Landcare Research (2015i) - causes obvious damage at the one site (near Auckland) where it is established.

Impacts on non-targets: Hayes (2007b) - extremely unlikely to attack plants other than Californian thistle, and possibly Scotch thistle (Cirsium vulgare), nodding thistle (Carduus nutans) and variegated thistle (Silybum marianum) to a lesser extent. Paynter et al. (2015) - surveys of potential non-target host nodding thistle show this plant (an exotic weed) is a 'full' host (can support breeding populations).


Cameron PJ, Hill RL, Bain J and Thomas WP (1989). A Review of Biological Control of Invertebrate Pests and Weeds in New Zealand 1874-1987. Technical Communication No 10. CAB International Institute of Biological Control. DSIR Entomology Division. 424p.

Hayes L (2007a). Status of weed biocontrol agents in Southland. A report prepared for Environment Southland Sept 2007. Landcare Research Contract Report: LC0708/022

Hayes L (2007b). Californian Thistle Leaf Beetle. In The Biological Control of weeds Book (Landcare Research) http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/research/biocons/weeds/book/documents/Californian_Thistle_Leaf_Beetle.pdf

Landcare Research (2015i). Who's who in biological control of weeds? Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 73: 10-11 http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-73

Landcare Research (2017g). Who's who in biological control of weeds? Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 81: 10-11 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-81

Landcare Research (2019i). Who's who in biological control of weeds? Weed Biocontrol: What's New? 89, August 2019 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/weed-biocontrol-issue-89/whos-who-in-biological-control-of-weeds

Paynter QE, Fowler SV, Gourlay AH, Peterson PG, Smith LA and Winks CJ (2015). Relative performance on test and target plants in laboratory tests predicts the risk of non-target attack in the field for arthropod weed biocontrol agents. Biological Control 80: 133-142