Invasive Opuntia Weeds

Prickly Pear Weeds

Opuntia in Africa
Opuntia in Africa

Prickly pear cactus weeds are invasive and unwanted aliens in many environments. There is the potential for Opuntia invasion in many warm and dry parts of the world such as Australia and Africa. The most serious prickly pear weeds appear to be O. dillenii, O. stricta, and O. ficus indica, but other invasive Opuntia species are known as well as Cylindropuntia species. Though they have the potential to provide forage for animals and food for humans, opuntia plants can rapidly overrun disturbed areas such as crop lands and pastures. They create impenetrable thickets that displace native plants. Animals are often injured when they feed on Opuntia cladodes and fruits.

An Opuntia infestation in Australia in the early 20th century was successfully controlled by the introduction of the cactus moth which fed on the prickly pears. Related biocontrol efforts are underway in parts of Africa, but these employ the cochineal insect. 

 

Video: Opuntia Invasion of Africa (Part One)

(embedded from YouTube)

 

Video: Opuntia Invasion of Africa (Part Two)

(embedded from YouTube)

 

Video: Opuntia Invasion of Africa (Part Three)

(embedded from YouTube)