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Containment and eradication strategies against WCR (Western Corn Rootworm) adults

Eradication and containment strategies were implemented in and just around a focus area near the Venice Airport since 1999, just after the first Diabrotica specimens had been captured in 1998. First strategies deployed in 1999 have been continued and improved in the framework of the EU-project.

The results were checked:
- In the focus and the safe area;
- In areas at increasing distances from the focus area in Veneto and other Italian regions.

The strategies implemented in Veneto proved to be very effective in stopping WCR (Western Corn Rootworm) populations; the population has been reduced to the minimum from the year when the first captures were recorded (1998). Differently from all the other sites in Europe where the species was detected, in five years there was no significant spread from the initial focus area and a dramatic reduction of the population levels despite the fact that the area proved to be suitable for WCR population development.

Based on data from the Veneto WCR eradication program and from first observations collected in newly infested sites guidelines for a successful eradication-containment program have to be divided into prevention and actual eradication-containment strategies.

A. Prevention
Once the first introduction of WCR occurred the probability of successful transportation of gravid females inside Europe has been increasing because of:
- Shortest distances within this area; this elevates the possibilities of adult survival and movement by plane and other modes of transportation;

- The increase of WCR population and distribution in Europe makes it even more likely that transportation of WCR beetles occur.

Two main factors appear associated with new introductions as observed in Veneto in 1998 (Fig. 4.40), Friuli Venezia Giulia in 2002 (around the airport is more than 90% of the cultivated area and maize monoculture fields are more than 50%), Belgrade in 1992 (maize monoculture fields next to the border of airport facility), France 2002 (Reynaud 2002, unpublished data):
- An area with frequent movement of vehicles coming from infested areas;

- The presence of monoculture maize fields near to the border of the area of possible infestation.

Therefore prevention measures must guarantee the absence of monoculture maize fields all around selected sensitive sites and in these and other sites an effective monitoring suitable for promptly detecting newly arrived populations must be implemented.

A reliable prevention procedure for Western Europe’s sensitive sites should include:
-Prohibition of maize cultivation or maize monoculture 500 - 1000 m around selected sensitive sites such as airports, custom facilities; precise identification in the maps of the prevention zone;

-Monitoring of monocolture maize fields around the prevention zone and of maize fields in the prevention zone if the interruption of maize monocolture is implemented; sex pheromone traps like PAL must be used.

B. Actual eradication-containment strategies
Once WCR has been promptly detected the following proved to be the key factors to implement a successful eradication/containment program:

- Immediate identification of a focus area where WCR has been detected; from the beginning these areas should be at least 1-2km larger than the area from which the first specimens were captured.
In each focus area:
-- Imposing restrictions on the planting of maize in fields: prohibition of planting maize after maize.

-- Monitoring the WCR population by using sex pheromone traps;

-- Applying foliar insecticide treatments to all maize fields to control WCR adults;

-- Prohibiting the movement of fresh maize or soil in which corn was grown the previous year outside of the focus area;

-- Not allowing maize to be harvested before 1st of October or in any case allow plants dry to appropriate levels before removing;

-- Preventing volunteer maize and grasses serving as alternative food sources for WCR larvae from being present in non maize fields (including set aside fields);

- Prompt delineation of safety areas just around the focus area.
In each safety area:
-- Monitoring the WCR population by using sex pheromone traps;

-- Applying foliar insecticide treatments to maize fields where WCR specimens have been captured and to all maize fields around the infested fields.

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