Historically, biological control efforts against aquatic plants in South Africa have focused on floating species, and as a result, there has been a dearth of research into the invasion and control of submerged macrophytes. With numerous submerged invasive species already established in South Africa, thriving horticultural and aquarium industries, nutrient-rich water systems, and a limited knowledge of the drivers of invasions of submerged macrophytes, South Africa is highly vulnerable to a second phase of aquatic plant problems. Experience gained in the U.S.A. on biological control against submerged weeds, such as hydrilla, Hydrilla verticillata (L.f.) Royle (Hydrocharitaceae) and spiked/Eurasian watermilfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum L. (Haloragaceae), have provided South African researchers with the necessary foundation to initiate programmes against these weeds. Research in South Africa is currently focused on pre-release studies on the biological control of H. verticillata, using an undescribed fly, Hydrellia sp. (Diptera: Ephydridae) and a weevil, Bagous hydrillae O'Brien (Coleoptera: Curculionidae); and on M. spicatum using a North American weevil, Euhrychiopsis lecontei Dietz (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Feasibility studies into biological control of some incipient submerged weeds are also being conducted, including Brazilian water weed, Egeria densa Planch. (Hydrocharitaceae), Canadian water weed, Elodea canadensis Mitch. (Hydrocharitaceae) and cabomba, Cabomba caroliniana A.Gray (Cabombaceae). Progress with, and potential constraints that may limit these programmes, are discussed.
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Vol. 19 • No. 2