Jatropha gossypiifolia (Bellyache Bush)

Jatropha gossypiifolia (Bellyache Bush)


Bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) has become a major and expanding weed of rangelands and riparian zones in Australia.  In February 2018, an agreement was signed with DAFF (Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) to test two species of gall midges (Prodiplosis spp.) (Cecidomyiidae) as biological control agents of Bellyache bush. The no-choice trials carried out so far show the midge develops exclusively on J. gossypiifolia.

Jatropha gossypiifolia (Euphorbiaceae) is native to Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. It has become an invasive weed in grasslands and riparian zones in Australia. Given that Prodiplosis longifila is a pest species on several crops from different families, and the phylogenetic proximity of the pest species with the species found on J. gossypiifolia, specificity tests were started on the cultivated hosts of P. longifila. Between February 2018 and March 2020, no-choice trials were carried out with 11 commercial species, two euphorbiaceae (non-commercial species), and J. gossypiifolia as a control species. Of all the species tested, we only obtained adult damage and emergence in the control species, while none of the other 13 species suffered any kind of damage.

Marina Oleiro, Willie Cabrera, Mariel Guala

Dhileepan Kunjithapatham, Invasive Plant & Animal Science, Biosecurity Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane, Australia.