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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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ABCL, Biological control of skunkvine
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Biological control of skunkvine

 

Skunkvine, Paederia foetida (Rubiaceae), is an invasive weed across the southeastern U.S., especially in Florida and the island of Hawaii.  It is widely distributed across the temperate, tropical and subtropical areas of east Asia and has the potential to spread beyond the southeast to the northeastern states in the U.S.  It is a weed in natural, agricultural and urban areas causing significant economic damage.  Control through mechanical removal and herbicide application is expensive and can damage associated and valued plant species. ABCL staff has located the plant in several countries in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand.  Consumption of Paederia as a vegetable is common in Thailand, and the plants are commonly cultivated. 

 

Skunkvine in Singapore, photo courtesy of ABCL

 

Surveys of skunkvine by ABCL staff have revealed a suite of potential biological control agents.  Damage caused by a cecidomyiid midge to the fruit of P. foetida has been observed in southern Thailand and Hong Kong and up to 60% of fruit can be destroyed.  The midge was identified as possibly Asphondylia sp.  A lepidopteran, whose larvae tunnel in the stems of P. foetida, has been observed in Hong Kong and Singapore.  An unknown staphylinid beetle has been observed on P. pilifera in northern Thailand.  The species is highly unusual in that the adults feed on leaves of the living plant while larvae were found tunneling in petioles of leaves of P. pilifera; most staphylinid larvae are soil or leaf-litter dwellers. USDA-ARS collaborators in Fort Lauderdale have also observed this insect in Nepal, possibly on P. foetida.  A galling pathogen believed to be Endophyllum paederiae has been observed in several Thailand provinces but thus far, in the laboratory, this pathogen has only successfully transferred to P. pilifera and P. linearis.  A pathogen which may be E. paederiae has also been observed in Hong Kong and further testing must be completed on this biotype. 

 

Skunkvine borer, photo courtesy of ABCL 

 

 

 

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Last Modified: 8/13/2009
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