Adaptability of two weevils (Neochetina bruchi and Neochetina eichhorniae) with potential to control water hyacinth in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia

Firehun, Y.; Struik, P.C.; Lantinga, E.A.; Taye, T.


Neochetina weevils have potential as biocontrol agents for water hyacinth, an aquatic weed which seriously affects irrigation water supply in sugarcane, vegetables and other horticultural crop production in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia. A study was conducted on (i) the adaptability and duration of developmental stages of Neochetina weevils and (ii) the damage they cause to water hyacinth in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia. The Rift Valley weather conditions appeared to be suitable for the two weevil species studied, enabling them to produce four generations per year. The egg hatching period of Neochetina bruchi ranged from 4 to 10 days, while Neochetinaeichhorniae took 8–12 days. Larvae of N. bruchi took a comparatively shorter period (32–38 days) than N. eichhorniae (52–60 days) to complete their development. N. bruchi laid a maximum of 10.4 eggs female-1 day-1, whereas N. eichhorniae laid 8.2 eggs female-1 day-1. The intrinsic rate of increase of N. bruchi was found to be 0.06 with a generation time of 74.8 days and a population doubling period of 14.3 days. The intrinsic rate of increase of N. eichhorniae was 0.046 accompanied by a generation time of 94.8 days and a doubling period of 18.7 days. Feeding by adult weevils and tunnelling by larvae significantly impacted the vigour and reproduction of water hyacinth plants. N. bruchi and N. eichhorniae affected plants had about 72% (76%) and 66% (58%) reduction in fresh (and dry) weight, respectively. Thus, based on their damage potential and difference in rate of population growth, it is concluded that N. bruchi could be considered as a promising candidate for biological control of water hyacinth under Ethiopian conditions.