Tracking the spread of the first introduced biological agent in Europe

As the distribution of ragweed is expanding with changing climates, so may the range of Acontia candefacta.

Data resources used via GBIF : 10,664 species occurrences
Acontia candefacta
Acontia candefacta observed in Murphys Point Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Mark D. Read, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

A natural agent against the higly allergenic common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), Acontia candefacta was the first insect species intentionally introduced to Europe for biological control of an invasive weed species. Released in 1969 in the Krasnodar and Stavropol regions of the former USSR, the moth has since migrated and increased its range both in eastward and westward directions.

A recent study by researchers from Serbia investigates the expansion of A. candefacta in southeastern Europe. Since its introduction, it has been recorded in Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania, and reported for the first time in Serbia in 2009.

Through a combination of years of intense sampling by light trapping across all of Serbia and modeling of the host species using GBIF-mediated occurrences, the team present results indicating the the moth is likely to spread to all areas where the weed is present.

As the radiation of ragweed is expanding with changing climates, so may the range of A. candefacta. Unfortunately, however, current populations appear uncapable of controlling the spread of the harmful weed.

Link to original article

Stojanović DV, Vajgand D, Radović D, Ćurĉić N, Ćurĉić S (2017) Expansion of the range of the introduced moth Acontia candefacta in southeastern Europe. Bulletin of Insectology. Available at: http://www.bulletinofinsectology.org/pdfarticles/vol70-2017-111-120stojanovic.pdf