Prickly pears in Australia

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A monument to the Cactoblastis cactorum moth at Dalby, Queensland.
Prickly pear forest c 1930

Prickly pears (Genus Opuntia) are an invasive plant species in Australia.

Prickly pears (mostly Opuntia stricta) were imported into Australia in the 19th century for use as a natural agricultural fence and in an attempt to establish a cochineal dye industry. They quickly became a widespread invasive species, rendering 40,000 km2 (15,000 sq mi) of farming land unproductive. The moth Cactoblastis cactorum from South America, whose larvae eat prickly pear, was introduced in 1925 and almost wiped out the population. This case is sometimes cited[1] as an example of successful biological pest control.

There is a monument to the Cactoblastis cactorum in Dalby, Queensland commemorating the eradication of the prickly pear in the region.


The following Opuntia species are recorded as naturalised in Australia:[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ J. H. Hoffmanna, V. C. Morana and D. A. Zellerb (May 1998). "Evaluation ofCactoblastis cactorum(Lepidoptera: Phycitidae) as a Biological Control Agent of Opuntia stricta (Cactaceae) in the Kruger National Park, South Africa". Biological Control 12 (1): pp 20–24. doi:10.1006/bcon.1998.0608. 
  2. ^ "Opuntia". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government, Canberra. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 

External links[edit]

tiger pears are a plant that is prickly plant that looks like a pear