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Ecocompatible strategies to control weeds and insect pests








Field trips to Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy (February, April, May 2021)
by M. Cristofaro, F. Di Cristina, R. Bonopera and M. Guedj

These field collections were carried out for the biocontrol project on the painted bug Bagrada hilaris. During the trip in mid February we performed field behavioral observations on the biology of the pest, followed by collections. Bagrada bug was still very active (found several mating couples), but we recorded a strong reduction of the number of young instars, showing at least a clear decline of the fertility during the overwintering stage. During the trip in mid April we recorded very few adults (about 15 in total) and no nymphs; in the trip in May, we recorded again only a small number of adults (around 50), in combination with an important number (270) of young nymphs (2nd and 3rd instars). In both cases, the adults collected in the field during the last 2 travels die in few hours during the return trip.


Field trip to Canary Islands (March 14 - 21, 2021)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina

Exploration trip in Tenerife and Fuerteventura islans, looking for Mesembryanthemum species. Collected leaf samples in several sites and few moth larvae feeding on the leaves (probably a Noctuidae).


Field trip to Armenia (April 23 - 30, 2021)
by M. Cristofaro, F. Di Cristina,  M. Volkovitsh, R. Dolgovskaya, D. Ambaryan (ZIN-RUS) and M. Kalashian (Armenian Academy of Sciences)

Our trip started from Yeravan and we visited several collection sites: around the towns of Garni, Agarat, Surenavar, Yerask, in the Goravan desert, in the Noravank gorge and then in the Arpa Valley near the town Gndevaz. We recorded and collected samples of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), PPW (Lepidium latifolium) with infection of Albugo rusts on the leaves and  about 10 lep larvae damaging the tip stem, TACA (Taeniatherum caput-medusae), Lepidium draba with the first symptoms of eriophyid mite, Russian knapweed (Rhaponticum repens) with some Pseudorchestes sp. flea-weevils, some caper roots for Bagrada project and root boring buprestid beetles, a large population of Centaurea solstitialis without any biocontrol agents and 3 roots of C. solstitialis with a damage on the root crown by diptera larvae. Also found an important attack of Eublemma sp. at the meristematic part of large Onopordum acanthium rosettes.


Field trip to Greece (May 16-21, June 08-11, 2021)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina

Both these trips started from Athens and collection sites were around the town of Kalambaka, the ancient area of Theopetra, the hill above the Meteora area, the town of Trygona. Collected Bromus tectorum and Taeniatherum caput-medusae samples and several weevil species on Carduus sp. (Larinus, Lixus and -probably- Rhinocyllus) and one Psylliodes leaf beetle. Recorded a good mite infestation on Lepidium draba.

Field trip to Armenia (June 13-18, 2021)
by M. Cristofaro, M. Volkovitsh, R. Dolgovskaya and D. Ambaryan (ZIN-RUS)

Starting from Yeravan we visited several collection sites: near the town of Garni found some plants of Onopordum sp. with thorn-less flowers, Taeniatherum caput-medusae (2 subspecies) and Bromus tectorum seed samples. On the same road, close to a small artificial lake, we found a good population of Acroptilon repens with black rust. Recorded as well Centaurea solstitialis with Larinus filiformis, L. curtus and Bangasternus sp. In the Goravan Desert we collected 200 Oporopsamma sp. pupae on Chondrilla juncea. At the pass after the town of Yeraskh and then in the Noravank gorge we collected Taeniatherum caput-medusae and Bromus tectorum. Also found Larinus latus and Lixus cardui on thorn-less Onopordum sp. Close to the town of Vedi found Salsola tragus with an important damage in the roots (collected weevils, both adults and larvae) and dissected several Centaurea solstitialis roots, where we found former damages made by Ceratapion basicorne.

Field trip to Lampedusa and Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy (September 5 -11, 2021)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina

The island of Lampedusa is a promising place for Mesembryanthemum spp. (both nodiflorum and crystallinum). In one site (the second) we recorded 2 plants of M. nodiflorum still green (only because growing in a place where the people is watering other plants): in all the other sites, the plants were completely dry. We also recorded several Tamarix spp. (recorded some Corimalia sp. weevils). Pantelleria is confirming to be the best island for Bagrada: recorded a new site near Nika (few km South of Scauri heavily infested, even more than at the Cooperativa site). Very strange that at the end of July Bagrada bug was not present, and now the infestation rate (and the damage on the plants) is even more than previous years. Collected around 4 thousand Bagrada (adults and late instars). We also recorded (and removed) some Solanum eleagnifolium (silverleaf nightshade) in Scauri: reported the record to the National Park of Pantelleria. Finally, near Gadir we collected some Ailanthus altissima leaf samples, (maybe) with mite symptoms.

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