In 2013, a specialist noctuid moth herbivore, Hypena opulenta from dog-strangling vine's (DSV’s) native range in Ukraine was approved by CFIA for release in Canada. Prior to approval, it had undergone extensive host-range testing and it was determined that the caterpillar only survives on DSV so poses no risk to native plants. In addition, it had a significant impact on DSV biomass in cage trials.
Since then, Silv-Econ Ltd has investigated operational aspects of this new tool with potential for managing DSV. Our work includes how to rear enough moths to conduct treatments, and how best to release them in the field. We've also been monitoring their establishment and spread at our research sites in southwestern Ontario.
Successful biological control is a long-term project. Dog strangling vine has a head-start of 100 years or more and it will take several years before caterpillar populations establish and increase enough to see tangible impacts on the plant. The aim is that Hypena will eventually help to restore an ecological balance between DSV and other native plants, which will assist in the restoration of invaded habitats.
Silv-Econ Ltd, in collaboration with research partners, are studying the use of Hypena opulenta for the operational management of dog-strangling vine in southern Ontario forests.