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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF SWALLOW-WORTS, INVASIVE WEEDS OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES

Location: Biological Integrated Pest Management Unit

Title: Abrostola clarissa (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae), a new potential biocontrol agent for invasive swallow-worts, Vincetoxicum rossicum and V. nigrum

Authors
item Dolgovskaya, Margarita -
item Volkovitsh, Mark -
item Reznik, Sergey -
item Zaitzev, Vadim -
item Sforza, Rene -
item Milbrath, Lindsey

Submitted to: International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 10, 2011
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Citation: Dolgovskaya, M., Volkovitsh, M., Reznik, S., Zaitzev, V., Sforza, R., Milbrath, L.R. 2013. Abrostola clarissa (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae), a new potential biocontrol agent for invasive swallow-worts, Vincetoxicum rossicum and V. nigrum. International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds. USDA Forest Service. FHTET-2012-07:188.

Technical Abstract: Pale and black swallow-worts (Vincetoxicum rossicum and V. nigrum; Apocynaceae, subfamily Asclepiadoideae), perennial vines native to Eurasia, are now invading natural and anthropogenic habitats in the northeastern U.S.A. and southeastern Canada, threatening natural biodiversity and increasing control costs for land managers. Chemical and mechanical methods have not been adequate to control swallow-worts. In addition, no local American herbivores or pathogens cause significant damage to these weeds. Several potential biological control agents associated with Vincetoxicum spp. in Europe have been found and investigated, but none of them have yet been introduced. During explorations for herbivorous insects feeding on Vincetoxicum species in the Russian North Caucasus, we discovered a new potential biocontrol agent, Abrostola clarissa Staudinger (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae). A. clarissa inhabits low mountains and dry hills, having 1 – 2 generations per season. The biology of this species is similar to that of the closely related A. asclepiadis: eggs are laid on the undersurface of the host plant leaves, and larvae feed on the foliage and pupate in the soil. In natural conditions, larvae of this noctuid moth were collected only on Vincetoxicum spp. No-choice tests conducted under laboratory conditions showed that larvae of A. clarissa voluntarily fed and successfully pupated on Vincetoxicum nigrum, V. rossicum, V. hirundinaria, and V. laxum. Neither feeding nor survival was recorded on other Apocynaceae (11 species of Amsonia, Apocynum, Asclepias, and Cynanchum) or on plants from other, more distantly related, families (Rubiaceae, Scrophulariaceae, and Convolvulaceae). We conclude that A. clarissa can be considered a highly specific potential biocontrol agent that undoubtedly deserves further study.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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