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Biology and host specificity of Rhinusa pilosa, a recommended biological control agent of Linaria vulgaris

An Erratum to this article was published on 23 May 2014


Linaria vulgaris Mill. (Plantaginaceae), common or yellow toadflax, is a Eurasian short-lived perennial forb invasive throughout temperate North America. Rhinusa pilosa (Gyllenhal) (Coleoptera, Curculionidae) is a univoltine shoot-galling weevil found exclusively on L. vulgaris in Europe. Under no-choice test conditions, 13 non-native Linaria species exposed to R. pilosa were accepted for oviposition and most were found to be suitable, to varying degrees, for gall and larval development. Adult feeding and survival was minimal on native North American species in the plant tribe Antirrhineae which includes the target plant. In no-choice tests with 63 native North American species and 24 other non-target species outside Linaria, oviposition was limited to four native North American species. Only three larvae developed to the adult stage on Sairocarpus virga (A. Gray) D.A. Sutton, with no negative impact on plant growth. Risks to native flora from the release of R. pilosa are therefore expected to be minimal. The Technical Advisory Group for the Biological Control of Weeds (TAG—BCW) has recommended release of R. pilosa in September 2013.

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We are most grateful for the laboratory assistance of J. Jović in Serbia, and E. Barnewall, E. Pavlik and C. Durand in Canada. R. Caldara (Milano, Italy) is acknowledged for his important contribution to the classical taxonomy of Rhinusa, and B. Emerson, G. Hernández-Vera and L. Legarreta (University of East Anglia, Norwich) whose timely molecular analyses resolved key issues related to the phylogeny of Rhinusa pilosa and relatives. Funding for this research was enabled by the Toadflax Biological Control Consortium, through long-persistent support and interest from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund (through Montana State University), USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA APHIS PPQ Center for Plant Health Science and Technology, and Wyoming Biological Control Steering Committee.

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Correspondence to André Gassmann.

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Handling Editor: John Scott.

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Gassmann, A., De Clerck-Floate, R., Sing, S. et al. Biology and host specificity of Rhinusa pilosa, a recommended biological control agent of Linaria vulgaris . BioControl 59, 473–483 (2014).

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  • Common toadflax
  • Yellow toadflax
  • Curculionidae
  • Host range tests
  • Pre-release studies
  • Biological control of weeds