The host range and risk assessment of the stem-boring weevil, Listronotus setosipennis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) proposed for the biological control of Parthenium hysterophorus (Asteraceae) in Pakistan.
Parthenium, or Parthenium hysterophorus, has extended its range in Pakistan throughout Punjab and into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Sindh Provinces. Without control measures against parthenium, the negative impacts of this weed will go unchecked having deleterious effects on native biodiversity, human and animal health, as well as crop productivity. The weevil Listronotus setosipennis was obtained and imported from the Plant Health and Protection of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC-PHP), in Cedara, South Africa, in April 2019. A total of 22 plant species or cultivars in the Asteraceae family were assessed during no-choice oviposition tests in Pakistan. During these tests, the only plant species accepted for oviposition were the 10 cultivars of Helianthus annuus that are grown in Pakistan. All cultivars were thus tested for development of L. setosipennis from egg to adult. Only three cultivars were able to support some larval development, but at such low levels that it is unlikely to be the basis of a viable population. To support this, a risk assessment was conducted to ascertain the probability of L. setosipennis being able to sustain viable populations in the field, the results of which concur with native (Argentina) and introduced (Australia) field host-range information where L. setosipennis has never been recorded as a pest of sunflowers. The results of laboratory-based host-range trials, together with host records from its native and introduced range, indicate that L. setosipennis is sufficiently specific to parthenium and is thus suitable for release in Pakistan.