`A New Strategy Against a Dreaded Pest in Italy

Europe

A New Strategy Against a Dreaded Pest in Italy

Apr. 17, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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A new strat­egy has been given the go-ahead in Italy for the wide­spread intro­duc­tion in the envi­ron­ment of the samu­rai wasp to fight the fur­ther spread­ing of the brown mar­morated stink bug, the Asian insect that has, since its arrival in Italy in 2013, had a dev­as­tat­ing effect on Ital­ian agri­cul­ture pro­duc­tion.

Its pres­ence is also con­sid­ered a grow­ing men­ace to the pro­duc­tiv­ity of olive trees.

Con­ferenza Stato-Regioni, the Ital­ian insti­tu­tion coor­di­nat­ing national and local pol­i­tics, has approved the extra­or­di­nary allo­ca­tion of $87 mil­lion to cover at least some of the dam­ages caused by the stink bug in the 2019 farm­ing sea­son and approved the inoc­u­la­tion of the samu­rai wasp in selected areas.

The samu­rai wasp is a minus­cule insect that is con­sid­ered the bio­log­i­cal oppo­nent of the Asian bug since it deposits its own eggs within those of the pest. It does not rep­re­sent any kind of dan­ger for humans.

The samu­rai wasp’s well-known repro­duc­tive strat­egy has been stud­ied in the last three years in Italy, both to under­stand how effec­tive it can be in con­tain­ing the repro­duc­tion of the bug and to eval­u­ate the con­se­quences of its intro­duc­tion in the envi­ron­ment.

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The goal of its deploy­ment is to con­tain the pres­ence of the bug by at least 60 per­cent in most areas. It will take a cou­ple of sea­sons to see the first results, researchers said.

The brown mar­morated stink bug has brought many farm­ers in the last few years to sub­stan­tially increase the use of pes­ti­cides to con­trol the dam­ages to their crops.

More recently, Ital­ian research in olive groves hit by the pre­ma­ture falling of their fruits has iden­ti­fied a direct cor­re­la­tion between the pres­ence of the Asian bug and the drop-off phe­nom­e­non. More research is forth­com­ing.



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