Do thermal requirements of Dichrorampha odorata, a shoot-boring moth for the biological control of Chromolaena odorata, explain its failure to establish in South Africa?




Geographic range, Developmental threshold, CLIMEX, Climate, biological invasions


Chromolaena odorata (L.) RM King and H Rob. (Asteraceae) has been subject to a biological control programme in South Africa for over three decades. A shoot-tip boring moth, Dichrorampha odorata Brown and Zachariades (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), originating from Jamaica, was released as a biological control agent in 2013 but despite the release of substantial numbers of the insect, it has not established a permanent field population. Because climate incompatibility is a major constraint for classical biological control of invasive plants, and based on the differences in climate between Jamaica and South Africa and field observations at release sites, aspects of the thermal physiology of D. odorata were investigated to elucidate reasons for its failure to establish. Developmental time decreased with increasing temperatures ranging from 20 °C to 30 °C, with incomplete development for immature stages at 18 °C and 32 °C. The developmental threshold, t, was calculated as 8.45 °C with 872.4 degree-days required to complete development (K). A maximum of 6.5 generations per year was projected for D. odorata in South Africa, with the heavily infested eastern region of the country being the most eco-climatically suitable for establishment. The lower lethal temperature (LLT50) of larvae and adults was –4.5 and 1.8 °C, respectively. The upper lethal temperature (ULT50) for larvae was 39.6 °C whilst that of adults was 41.0 °C. Larvae thus had better cold tolerance compared to adults whereas adults had better heat tolerance compared to larvae. The critical thermal (CT) limits for adults were 3.4 ± 0.07 to 43.7 ± 0.12 °C. Acclimation at 20 °C for 7 days resulted in increased cold and heat tolerance with a CTmin and CTmax of 1.9 ± 0.06 and 44.4 ± 0.07 °C respectively, compared to the relative control, acclimated at 25 °C. Acclimation at 30 °C improved neither cold (CTmin: 5.9 ± 0.08 °C) nor heat tolerance (CTmax: 42.9 ± 0.10 °C). These results suggest that thermal requirements fall within field temperatures and are thus not the main constraining factor leading to poor establishment of D. odorata in South Africa.


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How to Cite

Nqayi S, Zachariades C, Coetzee J, Hill M, Chidawanyika F, Uyi O, et al. Do thermal requirements of Dichrorampha odorata, a shoot-boring moth for the biological control of Chromolaena odorata, explain its failure to establish in South Africa?. Afr. Entomol. [Internet]. 2023 Mar. 23 [cited 2024 Jun. 22];31. Available from: