Three insects were introduced into South Africa for the biological control of the alien invasive weed Hakea sericea Schrad. & J.C. Wendl. (Proteaceae) some 30 to 40 years ago. These agents included a fruit weevil, Erytenna consputa Pascoe (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a seed moth, Carposina autologa Meyrick (Lepidoptera: Carposinidae) and a shoot-boring weevil, Cydmaea binotata Lea (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). A strain of a local fungus, Colletotrichum acutatum (Penz) Sacc, has also been exploited as a mycoherbicide. Despite these biological control efforts, the weed still persists and forms dense monocultures that displace the natural vegetation. In 2001 permission was granted to release a stem-boring beetle, Aphanasium australe (Boisduval) (Cerambycidae), for the biological control of H. sericea in South Africa. The larvae of the beetle tunnel within the base of the stems and sub-surface roots of the tree and this is the first insect agent that has been introduced that can kill hakea trees. The collection of A. australe in Australia, culturing in quarantine, and the release techniques used to establish the beetle in South Africa are discussed. Aphanasium australe has established at half of the 23 release sites recently surveyed to determine establishment. It is concluded that although it is too early to predict the likely success of A. australe on H. sericea in South Africa, the prognosis is good given the early signs of mortality at some of the sites.
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