EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 10 - 2019 Num. article: 2019/220

Grasses as suitable targets for classical weed biological control

Grasses (Poaceae) have been deliberately translocated into many non-native regions of the world and some have become invasive alien plants in recipient countries.  These species can have negative impacts on native biodiversity, reduce grazing and agricultural productivity, alter fire regimes, and affect nutrient cycling.  Historically, there are few invasive grass species that have been the target of weed biological control due to the perception that this group supports unspecialised and insufficiently damaging natural enemies. To assess the suitability of biological control as a management tool for invasive grasses a literature review was conducted to address three questions: (1) are there sufficiently specialised, and (2) damaging natural enemies associated with grasses to warrant pursuing biological control, and (3) are the risks of introducing biological control agents any greater for grasses than other weed taxa?  The literature review identified 23 current and past biological control projects against invasive grasses and lists the species, the country, the candidate agent, the current status of the biological control programme, indications of control, and key references. The literature review showed that invasive grasses possess specialised natural enemies that may be sufficiently damaging to provide effective control of the target weeds. The study concludes that the risk of grass biological control is no greater than for other weed taxa if practitioners follow appropriately rigorous risk assessment protocols.  


Sutton GF, Canavan K, Day MD, den Breeyen A, Goolsby JA, Cristofaro M, McConnachie A, Paterson ID (2019) Grasses as suitable targets for classical weed biological control. BioControl. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10526-019-09968-8