Research project: Insect damage to fruit of endangered Lilly Pillies (Syzgium sp.) and an endangered Quassia species


Start date:

Museum investigators

  • Dr David Britton , Head, Natural Sciences & Biodiversity Conservation

External investigators

  • Anne Clements, Anne Clements and Associates


Plants with restricted distributions due to habitat fragmentation often have reduced seedling recruitment due to damage from native insect herbivores. A moth which appears to cause significant damage to an undescribed and rare Quassia species (Simaroubaceae) has been reared and identified as Atteva albiguttata (Yponomeutidae). Other Atteva species throughout the world have larvae that feed on this plant family, but this is the first record of an Australian species feeding on a plant in the Simaroubaceae (published in Australian Entomologist).

The botanical consulting firm Anne Clements and Associates has been working on remnant populations of the Magenta Lilly Pilly Syzgium paniculatum. They noted that seedling recruitment is very low even when fruit production was high, and have hypothesized that this is due to fruit predation by insects. Samples of fruit have been provided to the Entomology Department at the Australian Museum, and five species of potential frugivorous insects have been reared, including undescribed weevils and wasps. Current observations are being made on the feeding sites of these insects within the fruit.

Dr David Britton , Head, Natural Sciences & Biodiversity Conservation
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