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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Ulex europaeus (Fabales: Fabaceae), gorse

Agent introduced: Pempelia genistella (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) = Oncocera genistella, gorse colonial hard shoot moth


1995, 1996, 1999

Import source:

Portugal, 1995, 1999; Spain 1996



Release details:

Gourlay (2011c) - not released until 1998 from 1995 importation as difficult to rear. Further importation in 1999 to boost rearing stocks to allow widespread releases to begin. Releases have been limited (5 in 2007).


Gourlay (2011c) - only known to have established at sites in Canterbury so far.

Impacts on target:

Landcare Research (2014c) - obvious damage seen at several sites but impact unknown.

Paynter et al. (2018) - P. genistella is localised and impacts appear to be minor; parasitised by a native ichneumonid.

Impacts on non-targets:

Gourlay (2011c) - extremely unlikely to attack plants other than gorse in New Zealand. Overseas it also attacks Ulex minor, which is not present in New Zealand.

Paynter et al. (2015) - surveys of potential non-target hosts Cytisus proliferus (tree lucerne, tagasaste) and Laburnum anagyroides (common laburnum, golden chain) report no feeding.


Gourlay H (2011c). Gorse Colonial Hard Shoot Moth. In The Biological Control of Weeds Book (Landcare Research) https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/discover-our-research/biosecurity/weed-management/using-biocontrol/the-biological-control-of-weeds-book/

Landcare Research (2007a). New Zealand Arthropod Collection (NZAC) Biological Control Voucher Collection. http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/resources/collections/nzac/holdings/biological-control-voucher-collection

Landcare Research (2014c). Who's who in biocontrol of weeds? What's new in biological control of weeds? 69: 10-11 http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/newsletters/biological-control-of-weeds/issue-69

Paynter Q, Fowler SV, Groenteman R. (2018). Making weed biological control predictable, safer and more effective: perspectives from New Zealand. BioControl 63: 427–436 (first published online 8 Aug 2017) https://doi.org/10.1007/s10526-017-9837-5 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10526-017-9837-5

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 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2014.10.007