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.[1] Many of these, especially the Tiger Pear, quickly became 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 often cited[2] as an example of successful biological pest control. In the early days it was used as a clothing dye.

There is a monument to the Cactoblastis cactorum in Dalby, Queensland commemorating the eradication of the prickly pear in the region. The Cactoblastis Memorial Hall in Boonarga, Queensland, also commemorating the eradication.[3]


The following Opuntia species are recorded as naturalised in Australia:[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Prickly Pear Story" (PDF). Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Queensland Government. July 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  2. ^ 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): 20–24. doi:10.1006/bcon.1998.0608. Archived from the original on 2009-09-22. 
  3. ^ "Cactoblastis Memorial Hall (entry 601273)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Opuntia". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government, Canberra. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 

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