The leaf-tying moth Hypocosmia pyrochroma (Lep., Pyralidae), a host-specific biological control agent for cat's claw creeper Macfadyena unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae) in Australia
Cat's claw creeper, Macfadyena unguis-cati, a major environmental weed in coastal and sub-coastal areas of Queensland and New South Wales, Australia is a target for classical biological control. Host specificity of Hypocosmia pyrochroma Jones (Lep., Pyralidae), as a potential biological control agent was evaluated on the basis of no-choice and choice larval feeding and survival, and adult oviposition preference tests, involving 38 plant species in 10 families. In no-choice tests, larval feeding and development occurred only on cat's claw creeper. In choice tests, oviposition and larval development was evident only on cat's claw creeper. The results support the host-specificity tests conducted in South Africa, and suggest that H. pyrochroma is a highly specific biological control agent that does not pose any risk to non-target plants tested in Australia. This agent has been approved for field release by relevant regulatory authorities in Australia.