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New ecological pest management of pernicious scale insects in Mediterranean forest and groves

Objective

Pine is the most important and abundant tree of the forests in Southern Europe and Near East. In addition to providing valuable timber, -the forests play a crucial role as an integral part of recreation site, adequate landscaping and air quality. The Mediterranean region is one of the major citrus producers and exporters of fresh fruit in the world. Pine and citrus are prone to severe and repeated attacks by pernicious scale insects (Matsucoccus and Planococcus). Control of these pests with insecticides is usually ineffective due to their waxy body covering and cryptic behaviour which prevent satisfactory application. Moreover the management of forests free from toxic chemicals and the supply of safe citrus products rely mainly on the development of environmentally friendly methods of pest control: Recent identification and synthesis of the relevant sex pheromones, open new prospect for the protection of the trees by using these selective, extremely active and nontoxic biochemicals. The findings that some of these sex pheromone display also kairomonal activity, namely attracting predators and parasitoids, indicates that they could be used to manipulate natural enemies for the benefit of the growers. Combined used of pheromones/kairomones and natural enemies will contribute to promote a new scale pest management strategy that is ecologically sound and will enable to reduce the application of insecticides.

The objective of the proposal (PHOCUS) are
1) to optimise the synthesis of pheromones and analogues and to design efficient traps and lures for attraction of scale insects and their natural enemies;
2) to assess the potential use of pheromone traps for monitoring scale pests by correlating trap catch with population densities;
3) to evaluate the effect of mass trapping on scale pest density and its possible adverse effect on the performance of natural enemies and
4) to evaluate the effectiveness of three biological control procedure:
a) the use of kairomones to select new exotic natural enemies,
b) the use of kairomones to congregate native natural enemies in infested stands, and
c) inundating releases of massreared natural enemies. The project involves a new strategy of application of pheromones and kairomones for protection of trees against harmful scale pests, taking into account - tree injury, scale insect abundance and natural enemies.

It will test the feasibility of the new IPM strategy for both pine stands and citrus groves. Conducting experiments under comparable procedures, in the four countries subject to different climatic conditions and pest densities will provide the means to assess the validity of the proposed new IPM strategy.

The combined expertise of the different teams participating in PHOCUS, the close collaboration between chemists and entomologists and the involvement of two industries specialised in the production of biochemical and natural enemies, are key factors in the successful application of the project results. Joining three South European countries, France, Italy and Portugal, with Israel, will contribute to preserve sustainable forestry and fruit growing in the Mediterranean Basin.

The practical use of combined biochemical and biological means will stimulate the production of fruits free from toxic residues as well as the conservation of healthy forests that will improve the well being of the peoples of the Mediterranean countries. Kev words: Integrated Pest Management, Pines Forests, Citrus, Scale Insect Pests, Pheromone, Kairomone, Natural Enemies
-New routes for the synthesis of M. josephi and P. citri sex pheromones, successfully transferred to the industrial
-optimisation of long-active lures and sticky traps adapted to scale insects
-development of low-dose pheromone trapping technique to monitor and predict M. feytaudi and P. citri populations trends
-demonstration of the inefficacy of the pheromone mass trapping to manage Pinus and Citrus scale insects
-list of potential exotic predators to acclimatise in order to control M. josephi
-innovative method of natural predators attraction in target Pinus stands with kairomone dispensers

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE
Address

33611 Gazinet
France

Participants (4)

AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH ORGANIZATION
Israel
Address

50250 Bet Dagan
INSTITUTO SUPERIOR DE AGRONOMIA
Portugal
Address
Tapada Da Ajuda
1300 Lisboa
ISTITUTO SPERIMENTALE ZOOLOGIA AGRARIA FIRENZE I
Italy
Address
Via Lancioloa 12/A
50020 Firenze Monteoriolo
UNIVERSITA' DEGLI STUDI DI CATANIA
Italy
Address
Via Valdisavoia 5
95123 Catania