Damage based identification key for endophagous herbivores on Common Reed
(Phragmites australis)

Author: Patrick Häfliger ©
CABI Europe - Switzerland, Rue des Grillons 1, CH-2800 Delémont
Purpose / Introduction



This key was developed as an extension tool for identification of the most common herbivore species, feeding in shoots of common reed in Europe and North America. Dissections of about 8000 shoots collected at 15 sites in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary provided the data for the European part. The American part will be included later. The identification is based on damage caused by larval feeding. However, in some cases, descriptions of larvae are needed for final identification. The key was designed to identify shoots collected in late summer (August/September). With some restrictions, it can be also applied to shoots collected during winter until March. At a later stage the key might be extended to spring collected shoots (May/June), since some herbivores can only be found and identified at species level at this time of the year. Information about biology, morphology, feeding pattern, and distribution is given for each species.


During the last decades common reed (Phragmites australis) has become an invasive weed along the East Coast of the United States and Canada, displacing native wetland plant species and causing declines in wetland wildlife. Comparison of P. australis populstaions from North Amreica and other continents using advanced genetic techniques have confirmed that both native and introduced populations exist and that the rare native popultations are being outcompeted by an introduced population.

An increasing number of herbivores, which feed on common reed are being found in North America. Only five species, however, are native, and more than 20 species have been accidentally introduced to North America.

A program to compare the herbivore communities associated with common reed in North America and Europe, with a view to evaluating the potential of biological control against common reed in North America is underway. This program is coordinated by Professor Bernd Blossey (Cornell University) and the European partner is the CABI Europe - Switzerland.

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