The combined effect of biological control with plant competition on the management of parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus L.).
Parthenium hysterophorus L., (Asteraceae) commonly known as parthenium weed, is a highly invasive plant that has become a problematic weed of pasture lands in Australia and many other countries around the world. For the management of this weed, an integrated approach comprising biological control and plant competition strategies was tested in southern central Queensland. Two competitive pasture plant species (butterfly pea and buffel grass), selected for their high competitive ability, worked successfully with the biological control agent (Epiblema strenuana Walker) to synergistically reduce the biomass of parthenium weed, by between 62 and 69%. In the presence of biological control agent, the corresponding biomass of competitive plants, butterfly pea and buffel grass increased in comparison to when the biological control agent had been excluded, by 15 and 35%, respectively. This suggests that biological control and competitive plants can complement one another to bring about improved management of parthenium weed in Australia. Further, this approach may be adopted in countries where some of the biological control agents are already present including South Africa, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Nepal.