Document Type


Date of Original Version



Plant Sciences and Entomology


Development of a biological control program for invasive Phagmites australis australis in North America required 20 years of careful research, and consideration of management alternatives. A recent paper by Kiviat et al. (Biol Invasions 21:2529–2541, 2019. articulates opposition to this biocontrol program and questions the ethics and thoroughness of the researchers. Here we address inaccuracies and misleading statements presented in Kiviat et al. (2019), followed by a brief overview of why biological control targeting Phragmites in North America can be implemented safely with little risk to native species. Similar to our colleagues, we are very concerned about the risks invasive Phragmites represent to North American habitats. But to protect those habitats and the species, including P. australis americanus, we come to a different decision regarding biological control. Current management techniques have not been able to reverse the invasiveness of P. australis australis, threats to native rare and endangered species continue, and large-scale herbicide campaigns are not only costly, but also represent threats to non-target species. We see implementation of biocontrol as the best hope for managing one of the most problematic invasive plants in North America. After extensive review, our petition to release two host specific stem miners was approved by The Technical Advisory Group for the Release of Biological Control Agents in the US and Canadian federal authorities.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Biological Invasions



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.