Eco-friendly technologies for the Integrated Pest Management of the Pine processionary moth were applied in the protected area of Petacciato Marina (Campobasso)
Pine processionary moth (PPM), Thaumetopoea pityocampa, cause serious defoliation to various coniferous trees. In addition, the third instar caterpillars develop urticating setae that produce several health problems in humans and domestic animals.
Eco-friendly technologies for the IPM of the PPM were applied in the area of Petacciato, with the aim of decreasing the moth population, avoiding the use of more traditional control techniques, such as intensive pruning or chemical pesticides, which can cause negative side effects on the forest integrity, biodiversity and human activities.
The coastal area near Petacciato presents, just beyond the coastline, an extended pine forest having a significant PPM infestation. The area is a part of the protected areas of the Natura 2000.
Tourists assiduously frequent both the beach and the pine forest, especially during the bathing season.
The need identified was to decrease the PPM population to limit the defoliation caused by the larvae and the contact between urticating setae and people/pets in the tourist area. The environmental-friendly techniques performed to decrease the pest populations, consisting of:
mass trapping of the PPM adults in order to capture males and decrease the frequency of mating;
mating disruption of PPM males: saturating the air with the sexual pheromone, the males were no longer able to find the females for mating;
special barrier traps to capture the winter migrant larvae that descend down the trees.
Total eligible budget of the LIFE-PISA Project: 1.108.232 €
(Research Unit University of Molise: 150.000 €)
Evidence of success
After two years of operations, the Pine processionary moth population decreased. The evaluation was carried out by monitoring the number of adults and the amount of winter nests built by the caterpillars. This decrease resulted in a reduction of the possibility of urtication to people and domestic animals and a reduction in defoliation of trees.
Some technical difficulties, for example, due to the height of the trees, the positioning of the traps and pheromones were difficult. Another critical point is shortage of funds; from 2018, activities could be interrupted.
Potential for learning or transfer
In protected and tourist areas, there is the possibility to implement eco-friendly pest control, avoiding the use of chemicals. This kind of application needs for high professional training of operators. The experience can be easily translated also for protection of crops cultivated in protected areas, which require a sustainable pest management, according to the indication for the reduction of pesticide use or risks in protected areas, as defined in Directive 2000/60/EC and in Directive 2009/128/CE.
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