main office and research facilities

via Angelo Signorelli 105

00123 Roma


registered office

via Germanico 107

00192 Roma




Ecocompatible strategies to control weeds and insect pests








Trip to Basilicata and Pulia  (February 28 - March 03, 2017)
by F. Di Cristina  and M. Guedj

Short meeting at the University of Bari to give Ailanthus infested stems to E. De Lillo and (at the CNR) to M. Vurro. Drove to Basilicata (Rotondella, ENEA Trisaia). Spent one day there working with Baldacchino, Balducchi and Arpaia. During the trip from ENEA Trisaia towards Matera just one stop near Metaponto: found Arundo with Cryptonevra and found a big Lepidoptera larva on the tip of Arundo stem (collected few samples). In Matera checked some of the Arundo cluster near the hotel (no good sites). We drove towards Altamura, where we found a large population of Cryptonevra. Next stop of the day near Gravina di Puglia: found and collected Ailanthus plants showing symptoms of necrosys. Last stop of the day near Corato: found a second large population of Cryptonevra (collected). Drove to Bari, where we left to E. De Lillo the Ailanthus sample collected near Gravina. Drove in the area near Margherita di Savoia, first site of the day near "molo della Darsena": collected few weevils Ceuthorrynchus sp. (assimilis??) on Sahara mustard; found as well some Nititulidae on the flowers. 

Field trip to Marocco (April 03-09, 2017)
by M. Augé and F. Marini


The goal of the exploration was to look for populations of Brassica tournefortii (Sahara mustard), following the historical literature of date palm agriculture and some herbarium record sites from the British Museum and National History Museum of Paris. We started the exploration in Fez, moving toward South. The first stop was in Boudenib, near the Algerian border (this town seems to be the exact oasis where the earliest crops originated from). We continued our route moving back towards North, up to the Mediterranean Sea; returned back in Fez after a small exploration along the cost. In total, 4 populations of B. tournefortii have been found. In Boudenib found a small population (less of twenty plants) along a dirt road, located between two fields of date palm; collected seedpods from 15 plants and leaves only from one, stored in paper bags and silica gel, respectively. In Guercif the population is very small and very localized; the plants are still green and the seedpods look bigger than the previous one found in Boudenib (the seeds are red); collected seedpods from 13 plants and leaves only from four of them. In Cap de L’Eau found one population along the way close to the beach; the plants are quite young with the seedpods still green (some of them do not have seedpods yet) and the population is a little bit wider (around 40 plants). Collected seed pods from 20 plants and leaves when it was possible. In Boudinar found a big population, the plants are present on both side of the road and, especially on the sea side, they stretch for at least 200-300 meters; some plants are dry, but in any case the seedpods are still green. Collected seedpods from 20 plants and leaves when it was possible. General note: unfortunately, in the most of cases the seedpods were still green or not completely dry, we really hope that the seeds will be able to germinate. Regarding the young leaves the situation is even worst, because it was almost impossible to find them. Finally, except for Boudinar, the populations found were quite small and located in very small area, therefore it was not possible to collect samples

from plants 5 meters far each other.

Field trip to Sicily (April 05 -08, 2017)
by B. Rector and F. Di Cristina


Travel in South-eastern Sicily looking for infested Thaeniatherum caput-medusae (TACA) plants. At the Archaeological Park of Selinunte found a large infestation of a new seed galling wasp (probably a Cynipid) on medusahead. We also checked the TACA plants outside of the Archaeological Park and we recorded the sympotms. Near Siculiana (marina di Siculiana) found and collected some other TACA heavily attacked by the galling wasp. In another site very close to Gela found a large infestation of TACA, with an early attack of galling wasp. We recorded the presence of TACA until the town of Ragusa. Near Chiaramonte Gulfi, not far from Modica, found a good infestation of TACA, but just 4 plants were showing galls (1-2/plant).  

Field trip in Milan (May 02, 2017)
by M. Augé


The aim of this day in the field was to look for populations of Ambrosia artemisifolia and one of its natural regulators: Ophraella communa (Chrysomelidae) in part of its invaded are in North-West Italy. We found the plant on a slope where it was mixed with 2 species of Artemisia sp. morphologically very similar to the target plant. Plants were young (6 to 10 leaves) and almost no damage has been observed on plants in this site, but we found 1 larva on one edge of the field. Young plants (about 40) have been collected and stored in carton tubes with paper and water. We then moved to the second site in Magenta: here the plants are even younger than in the first site (2 to 6 leaves), but were showing herbivory damage and we finally found cluster of orange eggs under the leaves of damaged target plants. Collected in separate carton tubes.

Field trip to Bulgaria and Greece (May 05-10, 2017)
by F. Di Cristina and M. Guedj


Trip from Plovdiv towards Greece passing through Svilengrad: collected cheatgrass sample for eventual eriophyid mite detection, rush skeletonweed, Lepidium draba and several cocoons of Coniatus sp. on saltcedar. Recorded midge galls on Galium aparine (maybe Geocrypta galii). Found Bromus tectorium sample (North of Komotini). We drove with cooperators V. Harizanova and A. Stoeva towards the town of Mineralni Bani: found few dark flea beetle with red pronotum on YST, 2 samples of Psylliodes chalcomerus "YST population" and some Psylliodes larvae leaf mining on Centaurea solstitialis (YST). Driving towards Starusel found a very good place for YST: recorded 2 Ceratapion basicorne, one Larinus filiformis and one Lixus sp. but no Psylliodes. Near the site we recorded an impressive damage on pine trees (dead), most probably due to a massive attack of a long-horn beetle. Found few more red-pronotum flea beetles. Near the town of Byala Reka found a good population of YST without any damage by Psylliodes (recorded one LAFI).

Field trip to Kazakhstan (May 10-20, 2017)
by  F. Marini  and M. B. Rector

Aim of this trip was to meet with M. Beksultanov (Department of Chemistry and Plant Protection, Ministry of Agriculture) and his  cooperators in Almaty and discuss about the possibility to carry out biological control programs with them. Visited the University, the new Eurasian Technological University, the Kazakh Research Institute for Plant Protection. We attented a very amazing demonstration of the drone monitoring system on grasshoppers populations. Furthermore, travelling through the country (Shymkent, Zambyl, Arys, Taraz) we were searching for plants involved in our projects. We recorded the presence of populations of Russian olives, Tamarix, Bromus tectorum, TACA, Acroptilon, Onopordum and Phragmites.

Field trip to Kazakhstan (May 18 -27, 2017)
by M. Augé, M. Volkovitch, S. Stutz


The aim of this field exploration was to collect mites and their host plants to set up rearings at CABI and at the University of Montana. The 2 main target species were Lepidium latifolium (PPW) and Acroptylon repens. Other target plants in this trip were Botumus umbellatus (aquatic plant easily recognised with its typical flowers and its triangle shoot) and  Bromus tectorum. Meeting in Almaty with M. Cristofaro and B. Rector before they went back to Italy. Driving North-East of Almaty we found sympatric Bromus tectorum, Lepidium latifolium and L. draba together, but without mites. Still looking for Botumus umbellatus, despite a lot of efforts we didn’t find the plant. Furthermore, we found a huge population of B. tectorum on a surface of at least 1Ha: collected about 40 samples for genetic analysis. Also found 3 small Tamarix sp. trees highly infested with cocoons of Coniathus sp. (adults emerged during the trip and were stored in pure ETOH after the return in Rome) and Cryptocephalus sp. (C. trimaculatus ?). We also found sympatric population of both species of Lepidium; both were attacked by a metallic blue/green chrysomelid  and a caterpillar; we observed mite symptoms, but solely on L. latifolium. Going down to the Ily river, near the Petroglyph site, Mark found Sphenoptera foveola on Chondrilla. We also found a big population of Bromus tectorum, occuring on both sides of the sandy path for several kilometers; all maturity stages were found at that time, from green plants to senescent one. We collected 40 samples with at least 5m distance between each of them, for genetic analysis and some leaves with infested by the rust. Collected mites on PPW along the river in 4 different sites. Following the river in North-West direction we found some plants of Alhagi pseudoalhagi (attacked by Diorabda), Sphenoptera foveola (around 75 individuals), a big population of Bromus tectorum (on about 1000 m2, mixed with wild weat: most of the leaves were eaten by larvae of Acrididae, found few mites (2) at the insertion of the leaves). Driving more deeply in the desert we observed L. draba, a few Acroptylon repens, Alhagi, some dry Salsola. Looking at Acroptylon repens, Sonja found the mites and succeded in bringing them back alive in her quarantine facility. Even on Acroptilon we found Cerambycidae: we collected stem galls, flower galls and mined stems. 

Field trip to Greece (May, 28-30, 2017)
by F. Marini and J. Kashefi


Goal of this trip was to look for galls on Taeniatherum caput-medusae (TACA), recorded the first time by Javid in a site close to Alexandroupoli. Found populations of TACA with different kinds of damage: stem galls on some spikes, spikes with tracks of feeding on seeds and leaves; some spikes look eaten; the upper part of some spikes is very weak, thin and already dry, even if the rest of spike is still green. Many spikes were already dry, even if the most of plants are still young. Checking on the collected spikes, a larva of Lepidoptera has been found (stored in EtOH 95%). Lastly, some small black weevils have been found between the seeds. We harvested youngest leaves and spikes (for M.-C. Bon, storing them in silica gel), and oldest spikes (for Steve, according to Steve’s protocol). The infestation rate it is no so high compared with the wide of the TACA population, despite the number of stem galls found is higher than in other areas. We also found a weevil on TACA and a spot of Lepidium draba with strong symptoms of mite attack. Finally, spikes with stem galls were organised in two bouquets, one has been left at EBCL lab and the other has been brought at BBCA facilities.

Field-meeting in Belgrade (June 11-13, 2017)
by F. Marini


Goals of this meeting were to 1) discuss the protocol about the experiment to evaluate the effect of Aceria artemisiifoliae attack on the quality and/or quantity of highly allergenic pollen of Ambrosia artemisiifolia (ragweed); 2) start to set up the experiment about Aceria artemisiifoliae and Ambrosia artemisiifolia pollen; 3) perform first survey about the presence of Aceria artemisiifoliae in the field. Also done field work looking for eriophyid mites on Ailanthus altissima and Ambrosia artemisiifolia.

Field trip to Slovakja (June 13-17, 2017)
by F. Marini and S. Novak


Our goals were to 1) collect soil samples of specific native populations of Ventenata dubia to conduct a soil microbiome analysis;
2) look for eriophyid mites on Ambrosia artemisiifolia (ragweed); 3) carry out opportunistic collection about other BBCA projects. About Ventenata: to conduct soil microbiome analysis, we selected two slovakjan populations of Ventenata dubia, in Kamenica (no plants found) and in  Semerovce (samples collected). Since we did not find the population in Kamenica (probably the best one in Slovakia) we decided to include other two populations: one in Medovarce and one in Novà Dedina: in both sites, the populations have been found and the soil samples have been collected. About Ambrosia: visited three sites, but we found only few plants showing slight symptoms of eriophyid mite attack on young leaves. About other BBCA projects, found a population of Bromus tectorum. 


Field trip to Iran (June 12-25, 2017) 
by F. Marini and P. Weyl


Goals of this trip were: 1) to close the experiment regarding the study of Aceria acroptiloni host-range (potential biological control agent against Acroptilon repens - Russian knapweed), under open field conditions (OFT); 2) to perform first survey about Anararsia eleagnella in the shoot tips of Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian olives); 3) opportunistic collections for other projects. We met prof. Asadi and visited the facilities at the University of Mashhad, performing the eriophyid mite extractions on samples of Acroptilon repens and Carthamus tinctorius (following Monfreda & de Lillo protocol).  Visitation of the fields around Shirvan to collect A. repens and C. tinctorius. Checked the site for nematodes on A. repens, but only few plants were infested. At the University farm, collected plants involved in the OFT regarding A. acroptiloni (i.e. Cynara scolymus, C. tinctorius, Lactuca seriola, Veronia fasciculate, Artemisia ludoviciana, Aster levigata); three inoculations of eriophyid mites have been done on each plants of the field garden, using  A. repens flowers galls. Kept a lecture about the Classic Biological Control for prof. Asadi’s PhD students. During the trip, we also sampled Taeniatherum caput-medusae, Bromus tectorum, Alhagi  maurorum, Convolvulus sp. with larvae 
inside the seed pots.


Field trip to Armenia (June 17 -23, 2017)
by F. Di Cristina and M. Volkovitsh


Trip starting from Yerevan (where we met with M. Kalashian) driving towards the Noravank Gorge. Camps organized in Khosrov State Reserve, in Noravank Gorge and in Goravan desert. Collected cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) samples for genetic analysis, Taeniatherum caput-medusae samples for genetic analysis plus seeds for us, and Taeniatherum sp. (big seeds) for detection of mites and for DNA analysis. Found Larinus filiformis and other weevil spp. on Centaurea solstitialis (YST), tephritid flies on Acroptilon repens, eriophyid mites on Chondrilla juncea and other Chondrilla plants with roots, weevils (3 spp) on Alhagi sp. Also collected 250 Oporopsamma pupae and 12 Bradyrrhoa larvae. In a YST site near the town of Vedi collected about 12 Larinus filiformis and some other weevil spp.

Field trip to Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria (June 28-July 05, 2017) and Greece (July 05-10) 
by M. Augé, J. Kashefi, S. Novak, R. Sforza and  L. Smith  


Aim of this trip was to collect Ventenata dubia and check for the presence of eriophyid mites. 12 sites have been checked through Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria but no mites have been found through all samples of Ventenata dubiacollected. Report regarding only the location and description of the populations.
In Greece we tried to identify and check population status of the stem gall forming Hymenoptera on Taeniatherum caput-medusae and collect Aceria salsolae on Salsola tragus. Reached the TACA stem gall site close to the Turkish border (road from Alexandroupouli to the village of Vrisoula), but we didn’t find any gall on this site and collected all symptomatic Taeniatherum caput-medusae (however, the symptoms observed are not due to any galls). On the way back found a big population of TACA subsp. asperum and YST. In Thessaloniki with J. Kashefi found a lot of mites on a big tree of Ailanthus altissima. In many cutted wheat field after Petrana we found Salsola populations showing mite symptoms, but we were not able to find any after both field and lab check: Javid hypothesised that the mites could have diseapper because of the climate change (there were a lot 5 years ago, only found a few in 2016 and none in 2017).


Field trip to Bulgaria (July 20-23, 2017)
by F. Di Cristina


Starting from Plovdiv we drove to Karadzhovo, but we did not find any Salsola plants at the site  (heavily cultivated with corn and tobacco). Centaurea solstitialis was very common and we recorded important  eriophyid mite symptoms on some individuals; collected samples (checked under the microscope) and some seeds. Another stop at the former Salsola site near Stamboliyski: found plants at different phenological stages; collected plants with some symptoms. Next stop at the Ailanthus site: no mites, but collected few weevils on Centaurea sp. (prob. renana or stoebe). At the Parvomai Lake we found rush skeletonweed infested with eriophyid mites and some Taeniatherum caput-medusaeplants to verify the seed germination rate. Collected samples for DNA of both Chondrilla and cheatgrass at the entrance of Plovdiv.  At the Starosel site collected cheatgrass samples and recorded Verbascum, Chondrilla and 2 biotypes of Taeniatherum (crinatum and caput-medusae).

Field trip to Turkey (20-23 July, 2017)
by M. Augé


Goal of this trip was to collect Aceria salsolae on Salsola tragus in Cappadocia. During the trip collected 12 populations of plants in different sites (Göreme south, Göreme north, Aktepe, Ortahishar, Ibrahimpasha, Uçhisar, North West of Göreme, Avanos). Mites were found only on population collected in Aktepe.

Field trip to Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece (August 5-14, 2017)
by A. La Marca 


Aim o f this trip was to check for our target plants Ailanthus and Ambrosia. Driving from Tuscany to the Slovenian boarder, no damage found on Ailanthus plants. In the area West of Trieste found a severe attack of Ophraella on Ambrosia (45%: eggs larvae, adults). In Slovenia, found Ambrosia damaged by Cuscuta and many other Ambrosiaplants infested with Ophraella (20-25%: adults, eggs). Found Ailanthus infested with eriophyid mites. In Croatia, just 4-5 km after the border with Slovenia, found Ambrosia with Ophraella (10%: 2 adults). Good spot of Ailanthus infested with eriophyid mites at the entrance of the Punat village. Driving South in the direction of Paklenica recorded big populations of Ambrosia without any Ophraella. At the entrance of the town Karlobag found a good population of Ailanthus hevily attacked by eriophyid mites. Going North towards the Plitvicka Jezara National Park, checked 3 sites for Ambrosia (very large populations) without any Ophraella. In Belgrade, short meeting at the University with cooperator R. Petanovic (given samples to her) and drove Southern towards Skopje, Makedonia. There, close to the town of Gradsko found large Ailanthus population, infested with eriophyid mites. Arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece, meeting with J. Kashefi. Driving East towards the Halkidiki Peninsula, at the Ailanthus place near Thermi found plants with eriopyid mites. Made two collections of LASIO for John Goolsby in an Arundo site. On the way back, in Italy near Castrocielo found Ailanthus with eriopyid mites (the southest Italian record so far).  

Trip report to Belgrade, Serbia (September 06-08, 2017)
by F. Marini 


Goals of this trip were: to deliver samples at the University of Belgrade (to cooperator B. Vidovic) and update regarding identifications of old samples and pending papers; and to set up the experiment about Aceria artemisiifoliae and Ambrosia artemisiifolia pollen and perform the inoculation of eriophyid mites. Collected 50 plants of Ambrosia (with the inflorescence on the main stem as small as possible and taken from an eriophyid mite-free area) and set up the experiment about Ambrosia pollen.  

Field report to Kenya (September 07-16, 2017)
by F. Di Cristina


First trip for the starting project about biological control of Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus). Accomodation at the Mpala Research Centre: we can act only inside the Centre area, protected by an electric fence. First collection done just near our house: found a strange small Lepidoptera cocoon (with a larva inside) made by the petals of Guinea grass itself; collected leaves for DNA analysis. Meeting with director Dino Martins. Found another spot of Guinea grass with dry stems along the way from the house to the cafeteria: collected plants and checked under the stereomicroscope, found a cluster of (probably) Lepidoptera eggs under the leaf sheet and a very tiny external leaf miner. Met Kennedy Saitoti, a young biologist working at the Mpala Research Centre, who will be our escort driver in our trips outside the Centre. He drove us to other Guinea grass sites: collected Guinea grass with roots, recorded two possible "biotypes", one smaller and one with a bigger stem and larger leaves. Collected a larva of a small Lepidoptera, feeding in the young flowers of the weed; in the leaf sheet found some grey arthropods with their eggs. Driving North, on a site below some granite rocks we recorded the two "biotypes" of Guinea grass and collected 2 leaf beetles (probably Cryptocephalinae), and plants of both forms for the dissection; close the Mpala School collected samples of the target weed and dissected at home: recorded nymphs and one adult of Aleyrodidae and some Diptera eggs under the leaf sheet. In direction towards Mt. Kenya, we did not find any Guinea grass at high altitude, but collected some eriophyid mite galls on Erica sp. Collected both Guinea grass and buffelgrass very close to the main entrance of the Mpala Campus (seeds of buffelgrass and stems with eriophyid mites under the leaf sheet). According to J. Goolsby’s request, collected also ticks. 

Create Website with flazio.com | Free and Easy Website Builder