Cecilia Falla Mata

Doctor of Philosophy, (Plant Science)
Study Completed: 2018
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Ecological factors affecting the establishment of Gargaphia decoris Drake (Heteroptera: Tingidae)

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Woolly nightshade is an invasive weed in New Zealand. Conventional techniques for controlling the weed, such as mechanical and chemical control are expensive, labour intensive and damaging in ecologically-fragile areas. In 2010, the lace bug, Gargaphia decoris, which feeds on the plant in its native country of Brazil, was introduced as an alternative method of control. At the time of introduction, little was known of how successful this insect would be in establishing itself in the New Zealand environment. Ms Falla Mata examined how three factors – insect behaviour, environmental conditions, and plant host quality – might affect establishment of the insect. She found that all three factors interact and are likely to influence establishment. Ms Falla Mata’s findings will be used to optimise the ongoing release of the insects and to help assess in which situations the insects can be used to supplement the existing conventional methods of control.

Associate Professor Maria Minor
Dr Quentin Paynter
Dr Adriana Najar-Rodriguez
Associate Professor Kerry Harrington