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    Secusio extensa (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) was evaluated as a potential biological control agent for Madagascar fireweed, Senecio madagascariensis (Asteraceae), which has invaded over 400 000 acres of rangeland in the Hawaiian Islands and is toxic to cattle and horses. The moth was introduced from southeastern Madagascar into containment facilities in Hawaii, and host specificity tests were conducted on 71 endemic and naturalized species (52 genera) in 12 tribes of Asteraceae and 17 species of non-Asteraceae including six native shrubs and trees considered key components of Hawaiian ecosystems. No-choice feeding tests indicated that plant species of the tribe Senecioneae were suitable hosts with first instars completing development to adult stage on S. madagascariensis (78.3%), Delairea odorata (66.1%), Senecio vulgaris (57.1%), Crassocephalum crepidioides (41.2%), and at significantly lower rates on Emilia fosbergii (1.8%) and Erechtites hieracifolia (1.3%). A low rate of complete larval development also was observed on sunflower, Helianthus annuus (11.6%), in the tribe Heliantheae. However, sunflower was rejected as a potential host in larval-feeding and adult oviposition choice tests involving the primary host S. madagascariensis as control. Although larvae died as first instars on most test species, incomplete development and low levels of feeding were observed on nine species in the tribes Heliantheae, Cardueae and Lactuceae. Larvae did not feed on any non-Asteraceae tested, including species with similar pyrrolizidene alkaloid chemistry, crops, and six ecologically prominent native species. Because all species of Senecioneae are non-native and weedy in Hawaii, these results indicate that S. extensa is sufficiently host-specific for introduction for biological control. High levels of feeding damage observed on potted plants indicate that S. extensa can severely impact the target fireweed as well as D. odorata, a noxious weed in native Hawaiian forests.

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    Ramadan, M. M.; Murai, K. T.; Johnson, T.. 2010. Host range of Secusio extensa (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae), and potential for biological control of Senecio madagascariensis (Asteraceae). Journal of Applied Entomology, no. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0418.2010.01536.x


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    Host range, Secusio extensa, Senecio madagascariensis

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