Summer is a busy time for many biocontrol agents, so you might need to schedule the following activities.
Broom gall mites (Aceria genistae)
- Check for galls, which look like deformed lumps and range in size from 5 to 30 mm across. Very heavy galling, leading to the death of bushes, has been observed at some sites.
- Harvesting of galls is best undertaken from late spring to early summer, when predatory mites are less abundant. Aim to shift at least 50 galls to each site and tie them on to plants so the tiny mites can move across.
Green thistle beetles (Cassida rubiginosa)
- December is often when green thistle beetle activity is at its peak. Look for adult beetles, which are 6–7.5 mm long and green, so they are well camouflaged. Both the adults and the larvae make windows in the leaves. Larvae have a protective covering of old moulted skins and excrement. You may also see brownish clusters of eggs on the undersides of leaves.
- If you find good numbers, use a garden leaf vacuum machine to shift at least 100 adults to new sites. Be careful to separate the beetles from other material collected, which may include pasture pests. Please let us know if you discover an outbreak of these beetles.
Honshu white admiral (Limenitis glorifica)
- Look for the adult butterflies at release sites from late spring. Look also for pale yellow eggs laid singly on the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves, and for the caterpillars. When small, the caterpillars are brown and found at the tips of leaves, where they construct pontoon-like extensions to the mid-rib. As they grow, the caterpillars turn green with spiky, brown, horn-like protrusions.
- Unless you find lots of caterpillars, don’t consider harvesting and redistribution activities. You will need to aim to shift at least 1,000 caterpillars to start new sites. The butterflies are strong fliers and are likely to disperse quite rapidly without any assistance.
Privet lace bug (Leptoypha hospita)
- Examine the undersides of leaves for the adults and nymphs, especially leaves showing signs of bleaching.
- If large numbers are found, cut infested leaf material and put it in chilly bin or large paper rubbish bag, and tie or wedge this material into Chinese privet at new sites. Aim to shift at least 1,000 individuals to each new site.
Tradescantia leaf, stem and tip beetles (Neolema ogloblini, Lema basicostata, N. abbreviata)
- Look for the distinctive feeding damage and adults. For the leaf and tip beetles, look for the external-feeding larvae, which have a distinctive faecal shield on their backs.
- If you find them in good numbers, aim to collect and shift at least 100–200 beetles using a suction device or a small net. For stem beetles it might be easier to harvest infested material and wedge this into tradescantia at new sites (but make sure you have an exemption from MPI that allows you to do this).
Tradescantia yellow leaf spot (Kordyana brasiliensis)
- Although the fungus has only been released for a short time at many sites, promising signs of likely establishment have been seen at some sites after only a few months, so it is worth taking a look this summer. Look for the distinctive yellow spots on the upper surface of the leaves with corresponding white spots underneath, especially after wet, humid weather. Feel free to take a photo to send to us for confirmation if you are unsure, as occasionally other pathogens do damage tradescantia leaves.
- The fungus is likely to disperse readily via spores on air currents. If human-assisted distribution is needed in the future, again you will need permission from MPI to propagate and transport tradescantia plants. These plants can then be put out at sites where the fungus is present until they show signs of infection, and then planted out at new sites.
Tutsan beetle (Chrysolina abchasica)
- It is early days for most tutsan beetle release sites, but the best time to look for this agent is spring through to mid-summer. Look for leaves with notched edges or whole leaves that have been eaten away. The iridescent purple adults are around 10−15 mm in size, but they spend most of the day hiding away so the damage may be easier to spot. Look also for the creamy-coloured larvae, which are often on the undersides of the leaves. They turn bright green just before they pupate.
Tutsan moth (Lathronympha strigana)
- We don’t yet know if the tutsan moth has established so are keen to hear how it is doing in the field. Look for the small orange adults flying about flowering tutsan plants. They have a similar look and corkscrew flight pattern to the gorse pod moth (Cydia succedana). Look also for fruits infested with the larvae.
- It will be too soon to consider harvesting and redistribution if you do find the moths.
National Assessment Protocol
For those taking part in the National Assessment Protocol, summer is the appropriate time to check for establishment and/or assess population damage levels for the species listed in the table below. You can find out more information about the protocol and instructions for each agent in the Biocontrol of Weeds book
|Broom||Dec–April||Gall mite (Aceria genistae)|
|Privet||Feb–April||Lace bug (Leptoypha hospita)|
|Tradescantia||Nov–April Anytime||Leaf beetle (Neolema ogloblini) Stem beetle (Lema basicostata) Tip beetle (Neolema abbreviata) Yellow leaf spot fungus (Kordyana brasiliense)|
|Woolly nightshade||Feb–April||Lace bug (Gargaphia decoris)|
Lynley Hayes - firstname.lastname@example.org