T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Beetle (Tradescantia beetles) Genus: Neolema

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class:Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Chrysomelidae
Subfamily: Criocerinae
Tribe: Lemiini
Genus: Neolema

Beetles in the genus Neolema are members of the Shining Leaf Beetles. Three species of beetles were introduced into New Zealand as part of a national biocontrol programme to control the pest plant Tradescantia fluminensis which was introduced to New Zealand in 1910 from is native habitat in south-eastern Brazil and north-eastern Argentina. It is now established in many native forests in the North Island. It forms a dense matt on the forest floor suppressing growth and regeneration of native plants. It can regenerate from a single 1cm node. The imported beetles also originate from the same areas in Argentina and Brazil. The beetles pose no threat to any native or exotic flora and fauna as they all only survive on Tradescantia fluminensis (Wandering willie, Wandering jew).

The three beetles that were introduced for the control of Tradescantia fluminensis are:

1: Neolema abbreviate The juveniles eat the growing tips of the plants and the adults feed on the leaves of Tradescantia fluminensis. Commonly called the Tradescantia tip beetle or Tradescantia leaf beetle. https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/42414/Tradescantia_Tip_-Beetle.pdf



2: Neoloma ogloblini, formerly Lema obscura 
http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/local-insects/beetle-tradescantia-leaf-beetle-neolema-ogloblini.html

http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/about/news/media-releases/beating-the-beetle-bug-new-biocontrol-agent-for-tradescantia    



3: Neoloma basicostata, formerly Lema basicostata
https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/42415/Tradescantia_Stem_-Beetle.pdf  

For more information on the weed Tradescantia fluminensis visit:
http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/weeds-by-scientific-names/wandering.html