Opuntia ficus-indica (Mission
prickly pear, Sweet prickly pear)
Boereturksvy, Grootdoringturksvy [Afrikaans]
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Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants)
> Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants)
> Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering
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> Order: Caryophyllales >
Familty: Cactaceae > Genus:
Category 1 invasive plant in South Africa. See
Flora of Zimbabwe.
Ecological interactions in southern Africa
The orange and black striped larvae eat the parenchymous
tissue inside the cladodes. Introduced to South Africa in 1933 for
the biological control of
causing extensive damage not only to this host plant but to a
number of other cactus weed species in South Africa as well.
However, its impact here was not as great as it was against
Opuntia stricta in Australia.
Dactylopius opuntiae (Hemiptera:
Dactylopiidae). The 'ficus' biotype was released in 1938
against Opuntia ficus-indica, causing extensive damage
(Klein 2011). Dactylopius species are
collectively known as cochineal insects and are all
characterised by having vivid red body contents that from
is used for producing cochineal
dye. The females suck the juices from the cactus and those of
Dactylopius opuntiae are easily
noticed on the plant because of their untidy covering of waxy
filaments, looking rather like blobs of cotton wool.
Lagocheirus funestus (Coleoptera:
Cerambycidae). A stem boring beetle, released in 1943 against
Opuntia ficus-indica but while it has become established, it
has caused only trivial damage (Klein 2011).
Metamasius spinolae (Coleoptera:
Curculionidae). A stem boring beetle, released in 1948 against
Opuntia ficus-indica, causing extensive damage to plants
Klein H. 2011. A
catalogue of the insects, mites and
pathogens that have been used or
rejected, or are under consideration,
for the biological control of invasive
alien plants in South Africa. African
Entomology 19(2): 515-549.