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Biocontrol introduction

Target pest: Jacobaea vulgaris (Asterales: Asteraceae) = Senecio jacobaea, ragwort

Agent introduced: Botanophila seneciella (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) = Pegohylemyia seneciella, ragwort seed fly



Import source:


Import notes:

Cameron et al. (1989) - fourteen consignments of ragwort seed fly puparia (Botanophila seneciella and Botanophila jacobaeae) were imported from England between 1928 and 1939.



Release details:

Cameron et al. (1989), Gourlay (2007d) - emerging adults of B. seneciella are assumed to have been released along with B. jacobaeae between 1936 and 1940 at Nelson in the South Island and a number of North Island sites.


Cameron et al. (1989), Gourlay (2007d) - did not establish.

Harman (1999) - a lack of synchrony of the fly's life stages with those of the host plant, i.e. a lack of oviposition sites for emerging adults, may explain why B. seneciella failed to establish in New Zealand.

General comments:

Taxonomic note (29 June 2024) - at the time that B. seneciella was introduced into New Zealand, ragwort, the target weed, was classified as Senecio jacobaea. However, molecular studies of the tribe Senecioneae by Pelser et al. (2006) showed that species of Senecio sect. Jacobaea (Mill.) Dumort. formed a well-supported clade that is only distantly related to other species usually attributed to Senecio, and proposed transferring the 27 species of sect. Jacobaea they analysed to the genus Jacobaea Mill. This included Senecio jacobaea, reclassified as Jacobaea vulgaris.


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.

Gourlay H (2007d). Ragwort seed fly: Botanophila jacobaeae. The Biological Control of Weeds Book - Te Whakapau Taru: A New Zealand Guide (Landcare Research) [Updated 2021] https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/discover-our-research/biodiversity-biosecurity/weed-biocontrol/projects-agents/biocontrol-agents/ragwort-seed-fly/

Harman HM. (1999). The effect of variability in the phenology of the reproductive stages of Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) on the synchronization of the life stages of broom seed beetle (Bruchidius villosus) in New Zealand. Biological Control 15: 228–234 https://doi.org/10.1006/bcon.1999.0715

Pelser PB, Veldkamp J-F, Van der Meijden R (2006). New combinations in Jacobaea Mill. (Asteraceae – Senecioneae). Compositae Newsletter 44: 1-11 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247158930_New_combinations_in_Jacobaea_Mill_Asteraceae-Senecioneae