- Osservatorio Sicilia/Mondo e Dintorni - http://www.osservatorio-sicilia.it -

The parasitoid psyllaephagus bliteus may protect eucalypts

fiori_eucalipto3 [1]In September 2011, two months after the recovery in Sicily of the harmful red gum lerp psyllid Glycaspis brimblecombei on Eucalyptus camaldulensis, three entomologists of DEMETRA Department of the University of Palermo (Virgilio Caleca, Gabriella Lo Verde e Matteo Maltese) recorded for the first time the Australian encyrtid

This recovery finds a remarkable interest because where P. bliteus has been released in classical biological control programs against the red gum lerp psyllid (California, Mexico, Chile), the presence and gradual diffusion of the parasitoid allowed a satisfactory control of this pest, which can heavily damage the eucalyptus trees and mostly worried Italian beekeepers because of the dramatically lower quality and quantity of eucalyptus honey.

PsyllaephagusbliteusJKClarkCaliforniaUniversityScritta [2]The arrival of this specific natural enemy is due to an accidental introduction, probably together with its host, as already happened in New Zealand, Brazil, Morocco and Spain, without any previous release of the parasitoid.

In this particular case, the spontaneous diffusion of this exotic parasitoid allows to solve the paradoxical situation due to a recent Italian law, which currently prohibits the introduction of any exotic species, even if useful and essential for biological control of pests.

The monitoring on the diffusion of the parasitoid in Sicily and Italy, and on its effectiveness in controlling the psyllid is going on in collaboration with the universities of Naples “Federico II” (prof. Stefania Laudonia) and Catania (prof. Carmelo Rapisarda), partially funded by Azienda Foreste Demaniali of Sicilian Region (project on forest monitoring).