Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Biocontrol & ecology of weeds

Controlling weeds in New Zealand is a challenging and expensive task. Widespread weeds can be found in inaccessible locations and alongside native and economically important plants. Herbicides are expensive to apply, often kill desirable plants, can contaminate the environment, and need to be reapplied regularly in order to control weeds.

Biocontrol offers a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and permanent solution to weed control. Carefully selected biocontrol agents target only weeds. They don’t harm desirable plants, and don’t pollute the environment. Once established, they travel wherever the weed spreads and can return again and again to kill off new weed growth—all without human input.


  • Fowler SV, Paynter Q, Dodd S, Groenteman R 2012. How can ecologists help practitioners minimize non-target effects in weed biocontrol? Journal of applied ecology 46: 307-310.
  • Paynter Q, Overton JM, Hill RL, Bellgard SE, Dawson MI 2012. Plant traits predict the success of weed biocontrol. Journal of Applied Ecology 49(5): 1140–1148.
  • Groenteman R, Fowler SV, Sullivan JJ 2011. St. John's wort beetles would not have been introduced to New Zealand now: A retrospective host range test of New Zealand's most successful weed biocontrol agents. Biological control 57(1): 50-58.
  • Groenteman R, Kelly D, Fowler SV, Bourdot GW 2011. Abundance, phenology and impact of biocontrol agents on nodding thistle (Carduus nutans) in Canterbury 35 years into a biocontrol programme. New Zealand journal of agricultural research 54(1): 1-13.
  • Paynter Q, Bellgard S 2011. Understanding dispersal rates of invading weed biocontrol agents. Journal of applied ecology 48(2): 407-414.
  • Cripps MG, Edwards GR, Bourdot GW, Saville DJ, Hinz HL, Fowler SV 2010. Effects of pasture competition and specialist herbivory on the performance of Cirsium arvense. Biocontrol science and technology 20(6): 641-656.
  • Cripps MG, Edwards GR, Waipara NW, Bourdot GW, Saville DJ, Fowler SV 2009. Does transmission of the rust pathogen, Puccinia punctiformis, require stem mining vectors? Biocontrol Science and Technology 19(4): 447-454.
  • Elliott MS, Massey B, Cui X, Hiebert E, Charudattan R, Waipara N, Hayes L 2009. Supplemental host range of Araujia mosaic virus, a potential biological control agent of moth plant in New Zealand. Australasian plant pathology 38(6): 603-607.
  • Harman H, Weir B, Wells S, Howitt R 2009. Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci from Lochmaea suturalis, the heather beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), a pest in Europe and a biocontrol agent in New Zealand. Molecular Ecology Resources 9(2): 594-596.
  • Waipara NW, Barton J, Smith LA, Harman H, Winks CJ, Massey B, Wilkie JP, Gianotti AF, Cripps MG 2009. Safety in New Zealand weed biocontrol: a nationwide pathogen survey for impacts on non-target plants. New Zealand plant protection 62: 41-49.
  • Carvalheiro LG, Buckley YM, Ventim R, Fowler SV, Memmott J 2008. Apparent competition can compromise the safety of highly specific biocontrol agents. Ecology letters 11(7): 690-700.
  • Paynter Q 2008. Is weed biocontrol limited by biocontrol agent parasitism? Biocontrol news and information 29(3): 40N-41N.
  • Peterson PG 2008. Heather beetle: from doom to boom, part two. Biocontrol news and information 29(3): 37N-48N.
  • Bourdot GW, Barton J, Hurrell GA, Gianotti AF, Saville DJ 2006. Chondrostereum purpureum and Fusarium tumidum independently reduce regrowth in gorse (Ulex europaeus). Biocontrol science and technology 16(3): 307-327.
  • Paynter Q, Waipara N, Peterson P, Hona S, Fowler S, Gianotti A, Wilkie P 2006. The impact of two introduced biocontrol agents, Phytomyza vitalbae and Phoma clematidina, on Clematis vitalba in New Zealand. Biological control 36(3): 350-.
  • Waipara NW, McKenzie EHC, Harman HM, Winks CJ, Park D 2006. First record of bridal creeper rust, Puccinia myrsiphylli, a classical biocontrol agent of the environmental weed bridal creeper, Asparagus asparagoides, in New Zealand. Australasian plant disease notes 1: 23-24.
  • Paynter QE, Fowler SV, Gourlay AH, Haines ML, Harman HM, Hona SR, Peterson PG, Smith LA, Wilson-Davey JA, Winks CJ, Withers TM 2004. Safety in New Zealand weed biocontrol: A nationwide survey for impacts on non-target plants. New Zealand plant protection 57: 102-107.
  • Klöppel M, Smith L, Syrett P 2003/3. Predicting the impact of the biocontrol agent Aulacidea subterminalis (Cynipidae) on growth of Hieracium pilosella (Asteraceae) under differing environmental conditions in New Zealand. Biocontrol science and technology 13(2): 207-218.
  • Hill RL, Wittenberg R, Gourlay AH 2001/8. Biology and host range of Phytomyza vitalbae and its establishment for the biological control of Clematis vitalba in New Zealand. Biocontrol science and technology 11(4): 459-473.
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