A review of the biological control programmes on Eichhornia crassipes (C.Mart.) Solms (Pontederiaceae), Salvinia molesta D.S.Mitch. (Salviniaceae), Pistia stratiotes L. (Araceae), Myriophyllum aquaticum (Vell.) Verdc. (Haloragaceae) and Azolla filiculoides Lam. (Azollaceae) in South Africa.
Biological control against water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes (C.Mart.) Solms (Pontederiaceae), salvinia, Salvinia molesta D.S.Mitch. (Salviniaceae), water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes L. (Araceae), parrot's feather, Myriophyllum aquaticum (Vell.) Verdc. (Haloragaceae), and red water fern, Azolla filiculoides Lam. (Azollaceae) has been ongoing in South Africa since the release of the first biological control agent on water hyacinth in 1974. This review provides an account of progress for the period from 1999. Post-release evaluations over the last three years have shown that, with the exception of water hyacinth, all of these problematic aquatic plants have been suppressed effectively using classical biological control. In eutrophic water bodies at high elevations that experience cold winters, an integrated approach, that includes herbicide application and augmentive biological control, is required against water hyacinth. The grasshopper Cornops aquaticum (Brüner) (Orthoptera: Acrididae: Leptysminae) has recently been released as a new agent for water hyacinth, and Megamelus scutellaris Berg (Hemiptera: Delphacidae) and Taosa longula Remes Lenicov (Hemiptera: Dictyopharidae) are being considered for release on water hyacinth. The longterm management of alien aquatic plants in South Africa relies on the prevention of new introductions of aquatic plant species that could replace those that have been controlled, and, more importantly, on a reduction in nutrient levels in South Africa's aquatic ecosystems.