The role of mass-rearing in weed biological control projects in South Africa.
It has been documented that the continual release of high numbers of biological control (biocontrol) agents for weeds increases the likelihood of agent establishment and has been shown to reduce the time between the first release and subsequent control of the target weed. Here we review the mass-rearing activities for weed biocontrol agents in South Africa between 2011 and 2020. Some 4.7 million individual insects from 40 species of biocontrol agent have been released on 31 weed species at over 2000 sites throughout South Africa during the last decade. These insects were produced at mass-rearing facilities at eight research institutions, five schools and 10 Non-Governmental Organizations. These mass-rearing activities have created employment for 41 fulltime, fixed contract staff, of which 11 are people living with physical disabilities. To improve the uptake of mass-rearing through community engagement, appropriate protocols are required to ensure that agents are produced in high numbers to suppress invasive alien plant populations in South Africa.