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Developing countries, with high dependence on natural resources and some of the last remaining biodiversity hotspots, are especially vulnerable to weed destruction. The IPM Innovation Lab, recognizing the current and future threat, has helped secure permits to introduce biological control against Parthenium in both Uganda and Kenya, two countries where the weed’s spread is rampant. Parthenium’s reach is far as it releases toxic chemicals against other plants and thrives in numerous habitats, hence the 45 countries around the world who have reported invasion.

Attained in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KPHIS), the permits for Uganda and Kenya authorize the release of Zygogramma bicolorata, the leaf-feeding beetle, and Listronotus setosipennis, the stem-boring weevil, to abate Parthenium in both countries.

“Parthenium is one of the world’s most destructive invasive weed species,” said Muni Muniappan, Director of the IPM Innovation Lab. “We began the biological control program against Parthenium in 2005 in Ethiopia and our research lays the groundwork for what needs to be done elsewhere for its management.”