Scientists fighting the war on weeds have chosen a tiny South American beetle as their weapon of choice in the war against the invasive vine Madeira vine.
The South American leaf-feeding beetle, Plectonycha correntina, will be released at four sites in the Illawarra where their job is to eat the leaves of the Madeira vine that is infesting each of the sites and overtaking the remnant native vegetation.
Madeira vine is classed as a Weed of National Significance (WoNS) that smothers and competes with native species. The vine grows up trees as well as along the ground and is spreading throughout the Illawarra.
Chief Weeds Officer for the Illawarra District Noxious Weeds Authority (IDNWA), David Pomery, said the use of the Madeira beetle as a biological control had been trialled extensively in Queensland before being used in NSW.
“We have released approximately 400 beetles into the vines at four locations in the Illawarra, covering Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama, to try and assist in the control of the vine” he said.
Both the adult Madeira beetle and larvae feed on the foliage of the vine causing defoliation of the vine under ideal conditions.
Madeira vine is native to South America and is an invasive climber with succulent glossy green heart shaped leaves and fragrant cream flowers in late summer/early autumn.
Madeira vine spreads by aerial bulbs and underground tubers that can remain viable for many years.
For further information contact the IDNWA on 4233 1129.