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Field trip to Morocco (March 08-15, 2022)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina

The goal of this trip was to search for and collect fresh samples and seeds of Mesembryanthemum spp. We were travelling from Casablanca to Marrakech, and then to Agadir, Tiznit, Aglou, Sidi Ifni, Essaouira. The trip was very successful, because we found 12 sites with the target ice-plants. Despite to the fact that we performed the trip at the same time of last year trip at the Canary Islands and that the latitude was similar, we recorded different situations: M. crystallinum was extremely common (the populations were very big) but in 50% of the cases we found only dry plants from last year and we collected seeds to grow the plants at the BBCA quarantine facilities, to get the leaf samples for DNA. M. nodiflorum was not very common (found only in 2 sites), but we recorded a new ice-plant species (probably Aizoanthemum hispanicum). As final consideration, it would be better to perform the travel one month later (mid-April): the reason is that last winter was very dry and we found green plants only at the sites that received some water. Probably for the same reason, we did not find anything associated with Tamarix spp., very common target weed all over in the Country.
Field trip to Slovakia (April 11-15, 2022)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina

First stop-over of this trip was a full working day at the IAEA in Vienna (Austria). The second day in Slovakia, we had a working day at the site near Abov. Found one hole (GYMNA) on Russian thistle (Salsola tragus) plant, but recorded anthropic issue at the site (people are using the site for motorcycling rides). Recorded a good population of Bromus tectorum (in blooming stage): collected sample to detect the presence of erios and seed midge. In Nitra we had a meeting with P. Toth at the University. Drove again at the same  site of the previous day, near the village of Abov and collected some seeds of Salsola as DNA sample. Next sites were near the village of Nesvady and near Chotin village: found only small populations of Salsola, but collected a second sample of B. tectorum. The last day, near the town of Kamenicna we found a good population of Salsola, without any damage (probably because the site was in the middle of a cultivated area). Then stop very close to the village Svaty Peter: found a very promising site for Salsola (collected seed samples) but we did not record GYMNA damage. At the same site, found B. tectorum (collected samples), Chondrilla, Euphorbia cyparissias and Onopordium acanthium. In a site near the cimitery of Marcelova we found a large population of Salsola (one weevil adult feeding on dry seeds), but this was a very disturbed area (use to be a garbage place). Recorded germinated Salsola seeds both (still) in the stem as well in the ground. Also collected Bromus sample. Last stop of the trip was on a sandy hill near the village of Virt: found Salsola plants with GYMNA symptoms (but we did not find the pupae in the soil).


Trip report-SouthAfrica (April 17-24, 2022)
by R.H.Sforza and M. Cristofaro

Overall Purpose: Exposing irradiated sentinel eggs, Bagrada sampling, and collection of invasive stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens). We checked cultivated and non-cultivated plots of vegetables at the  the Vergenoeg farm near Stellenbosch (Cape Town). Bagrada (adults and nymphs) is present in between cropped fields where wild brassicas grow. We exposed for the first time irradiated Bagrada eggs within two rows where Bagrada was found. This is a new strategy that we are testing for egg exposures. This will allow leaving eggs for a week or so in the field for attracting local egg parasitoids. On our way, we stopped near Malmesbury for collecting stinkwort
seeds. The plant, up to 1,50
m, is widespread and invades all edges of crop fields. It is very critical in some places, and no control plan seems to be in place. We then visited Ysterfontein farm, where there is a citrus orchard, and found mating couples of Bagrada on wild Brassica sp. in between the citrus tree rows. Very low numbers as we are in the middle of autumn here. Found ice plant on the farm and at different locations in the western region; no damage observed. Exploration at Ysterfontein farm on a nursery plot of rooibos was more promising, as a nearby fallow land full of Brassica sp. exhibited many Bagrada adults. We decided to expose the remaining eggs there (14 Petri dishes covered with sand, displayed on the ground).


Trip report Cyprus (May 2-9, 2022)
by R.H.Sforza and M. Cristofaro

Purpose of this trip is to collect damaging Lepidoptera samples on stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens) and observe the sanitary status of stinkwort at early growth stages. Collected samples of Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum near Famagusta. Site of ice plant near the town of Paphos (towards Ayia Napa): found flowering M. crystallinum on rocky slopes close to the sea.


Field report Greece (May 07-13, 2022)
by M Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina

Starting from Thessaloniki, collecting areas were Kalambaka, Trykala, Vlachava, Kozani, Pikrolimni. We found samples (green or brown plants) of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and collected samples for the midge emergence. Also kept a small sample of 2 “types” of cheatgrass (different for the presence of hairs) for DNA analysis. We collected overall four Apion sp. on cheatgrass. Recorded a good mite infestation on Lepidium draba (in Trykala). Also collected small Chondrilla juncea plants to bring back to BBCA facilities. Found populations of poison hemlock (Conium maculatum, potential new joint project with René Sforza, EBCL) with a leaf-miner damage, a leaf feeding moth larva and one Lixus weevil (adult).


Trip report Tunisia (June 03-08, 2022)
by M. Cristofaro and M. Guedj

Purpose of this trip was to search for ice plant (Mesembrianthemum crystallinum and M. nudiflorum). Close to the beach in Sfax we found a first site in a very dry area with a small population of M. nudiflorum. In the same area found other sites with plants of M. crystallinum and M. nodiflorum; collected only M. crystallinum for DNA analysis. Around Gabes found other populations of M. crystallinum. Driving in direction Tozeur, found an important population of Tamarix sp.: collected stem galls (for adult emergence), and 2 weevil species (Coniatus sp. and Corimalia sp.). In Tozeur meeting with Dr. A.Namsi and Dr. S.ben Chaaban (CRRAO), discussing about the organization of possible research projects on oasis.


Trip report Cyprus (November 2022)
by R.H.Sforza and M. Cristofaro

Our goal was to explore sites for our projects on capper plants, stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens), Salsola, Tamarix and Mesembryanthemum. Close to Kampia and Delikipos found populations of Bagrada hilaris on cappers. Even close to Delikipos found an important attack of noctuid moths on stinkwort: collected about 60 larvae (probably 2 different species). Huge collection of noctuid larvae on stinkwort near the town of Pera and Delikipos. In the same area found a strange species of Salsola sp. (small, woody and with red pseudo-flowers) and some symptoms (pathogens) on the tips of huge Salsola tragus plants. Near the town of Perivolia found strange galls on Tamarix sp.  Found (probably) at the same site dry plants of Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum.

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