B3   >>   BCANZ home   ·   Search database   ·   Browse database

Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Ageratina adenophora (Asterales: Asteraceae), Mexican devil weed

Agent introduced: Procecidochares utilis (Diptera: Tephritidae), Mexican devil weed gall fly

Imported: 1958

Import source: Mexico via Queensland, Australia

Released: 1958

Release details: Cameron et al. (1989) - released within 72 hours after arrival at two sites near Colville on the Coromandel Peninsula

Establishment: Cameron et al. (1989) - established readily and can be commonly found wherever Mexican devil weed occurs.

Impacts on target: Cameron et al. (1989) - initially appeared to reduce the vigour and abundance of A. adenophora but its impact has declined probably at least partially due to parasitism. Cameron et al. (1989) - unknown. Hayes et al. (2013) - Mexican devil weed is not a serious problem today; this can be attributed, at least in part, to biocontrol agents [P. utilis was deliberately released, the fungi Cercospora eupatorii and Passalora ageratinae were probably accidentally introduced with it]. Landcare Research (2015i) - initially high impact but now reduced considerably by Australian parasitic wasp. Paynter et al. (2018) - highly parasitised by the wasp Megastigmus sp. (up to 100% parasitism) and galls also gnawed or pecked open by unknown predator. Impact unclear; P. utilis may contribute to partial control, but importance relative to the fungus Passalora ageratinae, is unknown.

Impacts on non-targets: Paynter et al. (2004) - surveys record no feeding on Ageratina riparia, as predicted by lab tests.


Cameron PJ, Hill RL, Bain J, 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, Fowler SV, Paynter Q, Groenteman R, Peterson P, Dodd S, Bellgard S (2013). Biocontrol of weeds: achievements to date and future outlook. In: Dymond JR (ed) Ecosystem services in New Zealand: conditions and trends. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, pp 375-385 https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/77054/2_8_Hayes.pdf

Landcare Research (2007a). New Zealand Arthropod Collection (NZAC) Biological Control Voucher Collection. Landcare Research website [Updated 2020] https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/tools-and-resources/collections/new-zealand-arthropod-collection-nzac/databases-and-holdings/new-t2-landing-page/

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

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 AH, Gourlay AH, Haines ML, Harman HM, Hona SR, Peterson PG, Smith LA, Wilson-Davey JRA, Winks CJ, Withers TM (2004). Safety in New Zealand weed biocontrol: A nationwide survey for impacts on non-target plants. New Zealand Plant Protection 57: 102-107 https://journal.nzpps.org/index.php/nzpp/issue/view/vol57