Integrated use of biological approaches provides effective control of parthenium weed.
Parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus L.; Asteraceae) is an invasive weed species in agro-ecosystems. It causes huge losses to native biodiversity and agricultural productivity. This study was conducted to assess the combined effect of a leaf-feeding beetle, (Zygogramma bicolorata Pallister; Chrysomelidae) and suppressive plant species, bull Mitchell grass (Astrebella squrossa C.E. Hubb.; Poaceae) or butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea L.; Fabaceae) on parthenium weed under shade house conditions. The suppressive plant species significantly reduced the parthenium weed height (16%), biomass (29%) and seed production (42%), in the absence of Z. bicolorata. However, this suppressive ability was further enhanced in the presence of Z. bicolorata. The combined effect of the suppressive plant species and Z. bicolorata further reduced the parthenium weed height (46%), biomass (66%) and seed production (95%). The combination also had a significant negative effect upon seed fill, decreasing the reproductive output of the current generation. The presence of Z. bicolorata also had positive effect on the biomass (10%) and plant height (11%) of both suppressive species. So, the combined use of suppressive plant species and the biological control agent suppressed parthenium weed more effectively than their sole use. Such integrated approaches should be prioritized for future management of parthenium weed.