Classical biological control of waterhyacinth is difficult to evaluate against the backdrop of active herbicide programs. Two experiments evaluated the additive impact of herbivory by two biological control agents with three different rates of 2,4-D on waterhyacinth growth and development in outdoor concrete mesocosms. The herbicide 2,4-D was applied at three rates: (1) control (no herbicide), (2) reduced (2.1 kg ai ha-1), and (3) operational (4.3 kg ai ha-1). Biomass of waterhyacinth populations was reduced by 16.9% by biological control only, 10.5% by the reduced rate of herbicide alone, 44.6% by the operational rate, and 97.3% and 99.9% by the combination of biological control and the reduced and operational rates of herbicides, respectively. These results quantified the relative contributions of both tactics to waterhyacinth management and posit the question of whether further reductions in 2,4-D rates are possible without sacrificing efficacy.
Nomenclature: 2,4-D; waterhyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms.