Biological control of weeds in Australia

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Rob Richardson

RG and FJ Richardson, Meredith, Victoria 3333 Australia.

Cite this article as:

Richardson, R.G. (2012). Controlling invertebrate pests in agriculture [Book Review]. Plant Protection Quarterly 27(1), 43.

Biological control of weeds in Australia

Edited by Mic Julien, Rachel McFadyen and Jim Cullen

Published by CSIRO Publishing 2012, hardback, colour, 648 pages, price $180.00

ISBN 9780643099937


Biological control of weeds – the holy grail of weed control – introduce an insect or a fungus and the weeds will simply go away, no more costs or hassles for land managers. If only! This was almost the case with the control of prickly pear during the early part of the 20th century when huge areas of the cactus were controlled by the Cactoblastis moths. The success of this program has set a very high standard for future weed control program. What is forgotten is that the program ran for 28 years with the introduction of 20 biological control agents of which 14 established.

While the success of this program is astounding, other programs that do not result in the same massive reduction in infestation can still have very significant benefits to the community. Rates of invasion can be reduced and management practices can be changed to cope with a less aggressive weed with significant savings to the community.

This book Biological control of weeds in Australia of over 70 chapters reviews either individual weeds or groups of closely related plants. It covers over 90 species in all and written by 47 authors. A full list of weeds and the authors can be found at Each chapter follows the same general layout commencing with an abstract followed by the introduction, biological control history, plant taxonomy, exploration, candidates, evaluation, discussion, acknowledgements and finally references. Each chapter has been written by researchers involved in biological control projects and their contributions have been edited by three of the luminaries of biological control work in Australia.

The last full review of biological control of weeds in Australia was in 1960 by CSIRO’s Frank Wilson and covered 10 species or groups of species. Work on all these species except one (nutgrass Cyperus rotundus) is continuing and are again covered in this book.

This book compiles valuable information from a wide range of sources into one easily accessible publication. It will be an excellent resource for biological control workers the world over and provide useful insights into the biological control process for anyone involved in or interested in weed control and management.


First published online: March 1, 2012