A catalogue of natural enemies considered and released as biological control (biocontrol) agents against invasive alien plants in South Africa has been maintained for many years, and is updated here to include the period 2011-2020. The current catalogue reorders and separates data for exotic natural enemies that have been approved as classical biocontrol agents, from those on exotic natural enemies that have been considered but not released, exotic natural enemies that have been inadvertently introduced into South Africa with host plants that include target weed species, and locally sourced natural enemies that have been considered as bioherbicides. Ninety weed species have been targeted for biocontrol, with 310 exotic natural enemies considered, 136 classified as de jure or de facto classical biocontrol agents, and 92 established in the field on 66 target weeds. Ten of these species were found to have established independently of being released while research on them was in progress. An additional six exotic species have been found established on target weeds, and 11 locally sourced natural enemies have been considered for inundative or augmentative biocontrol, of which two have been developed commercially. Of the exotic natural enemies deliberately established, 35% inflict extensive damage to their host plants. Insects make up the majority of biocontrol agents (90%), with the balance of 8% being fungi and 2%, mites. Both establishment rates and damage levels vary between taxa. Five biocontrol agents previously considered established, have not been found in the field for several years and their persistence is in doubt. Outcomes of biocontrol at a plant population level are indicated for 54 target weeds on which agents have been established for over a decade. The increase in numbers of target weeds considered, as well as biocontrol agents released, over the past decade, has been enabled by continued generous funding and an efficient release-approval process.
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Vol. 29 • No. 3