, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 359–373 | Cite as

Biology and host range of Aconophora compressa, a candidate considered as a biocontrol agent of Lantana camara in Africa

  • F. Heystek
  • J. -R. Baars


The shrub, Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae), of tropical American origin, is a serious weed in South Africa and is the target of a biological control programme. The stem-sucking membracid, Aconophora compressa Walker (Homoptera: Membracidae), from Mexico was reported to be very damaging and was therefore imported into South Africa for biology and host range studies. The female partially inserts the eggs into the woody portion of actively growing stems, and guards them against potential predators. Nymphs develop through five instars to the adult stage in about 45 days. The adults and nymphs feed on the sap of stems causing the leaves to wilt, the flowers to abort and the gradual dieback of stems. No-choice experiments showed that adult survival, egg production, and nymphal emergence was high on L. camara, and also on related ornamental and indigenous species. The adult reproductive performance was higher on some indigenous Lippia species than on L. camara. Furthermore, the nymphs developed faster on these indigenous species and high rates of reproductive performance on these non-target species were sustained over several generations. In multiple-choice trials, equal or larger numbers of egg batches were recorded from indigenous Lippia species and the ornamental plant, Aloysia citrodora Palau, than on L. camara. The treehopper, A. compressa, poses an unacceptable threat to indigenous Lippia species and has therefore been rejected as a biocontrol agent for L. camara in Africa.


biological control host range life history Membracidae treehopper 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plant Protection Research InstituteAgricultural Research CouncilPretoriaSouth Africa

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