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Senecio jacobaea L. -- Compositae




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This poisonous European weed is present in pastures and rangeland of northwestern California, Oregon and Washington (Warren & Freed 1958) and portions of Canada.  It has also been introduced to New Zealand, Tasmania, Australia, South Africa and South America (Frick & Holloway 1964). 


The first attempt at biological control was in New Zealand with the cinnabar moth, Tyria jacobaeae (L.) (Cameron 1935), and effort attended with considerable initial success, but the insects eventually disappeared (Miller 1940).  Australia also received T. jacobaeae from New Zealand during 1929-32, beginning a series of colonizations that continued into the 1950's and 1960's.  Efforts to establish this moth were precluded by the predatory activity of native insects, mainly scorpion flies (Goeden 1978, Julien 1982).


The moth was then introduced into the United States in 1959, and the initial release and establishment were summarized by Frick & Holloway (1964) and the progress of biological control by Hawkes (1968).  The moth is univoltine, and first appears between mid-April and early May in coastal California.  The eggs are usually deposited on the developing second year rosettes, which are those plants that will flower during the season.  The cinnabar larvae then strip the blossoms and foliage and finally the basal leaves from the plant.  Beginning in early August, pupation occurs in the soil where the insect overwinters (Hawkes 1968).  


Larvae released on a dense ragwort stand covering a coastal flat about 200 yards from the ocean at Fort Bragg, California, gradually increased in numbers and by 1963 were abundant over about two acres (Andrés & Goeden 1969).  Heavy defoliation occurred within this area, and by 1964 the high population expanded to cover an area of five acres, by 1965 12 acres, and in that year the highest concentrations of larvae were evident on the perimeter of the expanding area with lower numbers behind and in front of the advancing population (Andrés & Goeden 1969).  At peak population levels it was possible to find 100 or more larvae on large plants.  This resulted in total defoliation, which when extended over a period of several seasons, reduced the numbers of flowering stems from 15-19 per square yard to less than 1/5th the original abundance (Hawkes 1973). 


In spite of the high increase of the Tyria population and excellent localized destruction of the plant, dispersal of the insect from the original site was quite slow.  From the time of initial large population increase in 1963 through 1967, the effective population has moved only about 500 yards.  Hawkes (1968) attributed this slow spread partially to the high density of the plant and the ready availability of ovipositional sites to the newly emerged females.  The fecund females fly only slightly until a good portion of their eggs have been laid.  This can result in an over concentration of eggs and developing larvae.  In several years the ground was covered with migrating larvae in search of food, the majority either starving or being forced into premature pupation.


The potential of the cinnabar moth to control tansy ragwort outside of the Fort Bragg area was not as great.  Releases were made in other areas of California and Oregon and Washington with mixed results (Hawkes 1968).  In most areas the populations did not increase sufficiently for control.  In Oregon there were two sites, however, where marked reductions of the infestations resulted, but little is known of the differences in mortality factors that could account for the different rates of progress.  Andrés & Goeden (1969) mentioned that attempts were being made to establish a seed fly, Hylemya seneciella Meade, and a crown-feeding flea beetle, Longitarsus jacobaea (Waterhouse) in North America (Frick 1969, 1970) to supplement the action of the cinnabar moth.


For additional details on biological control effort and biologies of host and natural enemies, please also refer to the following (Poole 1915, Imms 1929, Miller 1929, 1936, 1937, 1939a,b, 1940a,b, 1950; Tillyard 1927, 1929, 1930, 1934; Cameron 1935, Currie & Fyfe 1938, Cashmore & Campbell 1946, Fullaway 1952, Kelsey 1955, Hoy 1958, 1960, 1963, Warren 1958, Munz & Keck 1959, Anonymous 1960, Douglas & Schmidl 1960, Parker 1960, Wilson 1960, Bornemissza 1961, 1966; Bucher & Harris 1961, Gleason & Cronquist 1963, Frick 1964, Frick & Holloway 1964, Kingsbury 1964, Wilkinson 1965, Ritcher 1966, Hawkes 1965, 1968; Waterhouse 1966, Simmonds 1967).



REFERENCES:          [Additional references may be found at:   MELVYL Library ]



Anonymous.  1960.  Insect on our side--imported Cinnabar moth larvae eat toxic weed but bypass useful plants.  Agric. Res. 8:  12.


Andrés, L. A. & R. D. Goeden.  1969.  Biological control of weeds by introduced natural enemies.  In:  C. B. Huffaker (ed.), Biological Control.  Plenum/Rosetta Press, New York.  511 p.


Bornemissza, G. F.  1961.  TErmination of pupal diapause in the Cinnabar moth and the reproductive capacity of the resulting females.  Nature 190 (4779):  936-37.


Bornemissza, G. F.  1966.  An attempt to control ragwort in Australia with the Cinnabar moth, Callimorpha jacobaeae (L.) (Arctiidae: Lep: Diptera).  Austral. J. Zool. 14:  201-43.


Bucher, G. E., & P. Harris.  1961.  Food-plant spectrum and elimination of disease of Cinnabar moth larvae, Hypocrita jacobaeae (L.) (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae).  Canad. Ent. 93:  931-36.


Cameron, E.  1935.  A study of the natural control of ragwort (Senecio jacobaea L.).  J. Ecol. 23:  265-322.


Cashmore, A. B. & T. G. Campbell.  1946.  The weed problem in Australia; a review.  Austral. Council Sci. & Indus. Res. J. 19:  16-31.


Currie, G. A. & R. V. Fyfe.  1939.  The fate of certain European insects introduced into Australia for the control of weeds.  Austral. Council Sci. & Indus. Res. J.  11:  289-301.


Douglas, G. W. & L. Schmidl.  1960.  A review of biological control of noxious weeds in Victoria.  2nd Austral. Weed Conf. 1 Proc., Paper 1.  6 p.


Frick, K. E.  1964.  Some endemic insects that feed on introduced tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) in Western United States.  Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 57:  707-10.


Frick, K. E. & J. K. Holloway.  1964.  Establishment of the Cinnabar moth, Tyria jacobaeae, on tansy ragwort in the Western United States.  J. Econ. Ent. 57:  152-54.


Fullaway, D. T.  1952.  Fifty years progress in the biological control of weeds-- a review.  Hawaii Bd. Commrs. Agric. & Forestry.  12 p.


Gleason, H. A. & A. Cronquist.  1963.  Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada.  D. Van Nostrand Col, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey.  810 p.


Goeden, R. D.  1978.  Part II:  Biological control of weeds, p. 357-545.  In:  C. P. Clausen (ed.), Introduced Parasites and Predators of Arthropod Pests and Weeds.  U. S. Dept. Agric. Handb. No. 480.


Hawkes, R. B.  1965.  Progress in biological control of rangeland weeds.  Rangeland Insect Mtg. Proc., Albany, Calif., March 17-18, 1964. p. 22-25.


Hawkes, R. B.  The Cinnabar moth, Tyria jacobaeae (L.) for control of tansy ragwort.  J. Econ. Ent. 61:  499-501.


Hoy, J. M.  1958.  The collection of Hylemyia seneciella (Meade) (Diptera: Muscidae) for shipment to Australia.  New Zeal. J. Sci. 1:  417-22.


Hoy, J. M.  1960.  Collection of Hylemyia seneciella (Meade) (Diptera: Muscidae) in 1959 season.  New Zeal. J. Sci. 3:  100-02.


Hoy, J. M.  1963.  Present and future prospects for biological control of weeds.  New Zealand Sci. Rev. 22:  17-19.


Imms, A. D.  1929.  Remarks on biological control of noxious weeds.  4th Internatl. Cong. Ent. Trans. (1928) 2:  10-17.


Julien, M. H. (ed.).  1982.  Biological control of weeds:  a world catalogue of agents and their target weeds, 1st ed.  Commonw. Agric. Bur., Slough, U.K.  108 p.


Kelsey, J. M.  1955.  Ragwort seed-fly establishment in New Zealand.  New Zeal. J. Sci. Technol. Ser. A, 36:  605-07.


Miller, D.  1929.  Control of ragwort:  experimental work with Cinnabar moth.  New Zealand J. Sci. Technol. 11:  112-19.


Miller, D.  1936.  Biological control of noxious weeds.  New Zeal. J. Sci. Technol. 18:  581-84.


Miller, D.  1937.  Control of noxious weeds.  Cawthron Inst. (Nelson, New Zealand) Ann. Rept. 1936:  12-13.


Miller, D.  1938.  Control of noxious weeds.  Cawthron Inst. (Nelson, New Zealand) Ann. Rept. 1937:  17-18.


Miller, D.  1939a.  Control of weeds by insects.  Effect on blackberry, ragwort, and piripiri.  New Zealand. J. Agric. 58:  37, 39.


Miller, D.  1940a.  Biological control of noxious weeds of New Zealand.  In:  R. O. Wythes (ed.), The Control of Weeds.  Imp. Bur. Pastures, Herbage Pub. Ser. Bull. 27:  153-57.


Miller, D.  1940b.  Entomological notes.  Cawthron Inst. (Nelson, New Zealand) Ann. Rept. 1939:  24-5.


Miller, D.  1950.  Entomological Investigations.  Cawthron Inst. (Nelson, New Zealand) Ann. REpt. 1949-1950.  39-40.


Munz, P. A. & D. D. Keck.  1959.  A California Flora.  Univ. of Calif. Press.  1681 p.


Parker, H. L.  1960.  Starvation tests with the larvae of the Cinnabar moth.  J. Econ. Ent. 53:  472-73.


Poole, H. S.  1915.  Senecio jacobaea and Callimorpha jacobaea (The cattle killing ragwort and the Cinnabar moth).  Nova Scotian Inst. Proc. (Halifax) 13:  279-88.


Ritcher, P. O.  1966.  Biological control of insects and weeds in Oregon.  Oreg. Agric. Expt. Sta. Tech. Bull. 90.  39 p.


Simmonds, F. J.  1967.  Biological control of pests of veterinary importance.  Vet. Bull. 37:  71-85.


Tillyard, R. J.  1927.  Insect control of noxious weeds.  Joint scheme initiated against blackberry and other species.  New Zealand J. Agric. 34:  84-90.


Tillyard, R. J.  1929.  The biological control of noxious weeds.  4th Internatl. Cong. Ent. Trans. 2:  4-9.


Tillyard, R. J.  1930.  The biological control of noxious weeds.  Roy. Soc. Tasmania Proc. (1929):  41-86.


Tillyard, R. J.  1934.  The entomological control of noxious weeds in the Pacific region.  5th Pacific Sci. Cong. Proc. 5:  3547-57.


Warren, R.  1958.  Tansy ragwort... a poisonous weed.  Oreg. Agric. Col. Ext. Bull. 171.  4 p.


Waterhouse, D. F.  1966.  The entomological control of weeds in Australia.  Mushi 39 (sup.):  109-118.


Wilkinson, A. T. S.  1965.  Release of Cinnabar moth, Hypocrita jacobaeae (L.), (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) on tansy ragwort in British Columbia.  Ent. Soc. Brit. Columbia Proc. 62:  10-13.


Wilson, F.  1960.  A review of the biological control of insects and weeds in Australia and Australian New Guinea.  Commonwealth Inst. Biol. Control, Tech. Commun. 1:  102 p.