The aim of IPM-Popillia is to address the challenge of a new risk to plant health in Europe, the invasion of the Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica. This pest was introduced accidentally to mainland Europe in 2014 (EPPO 2014) and can easily spread in the course of trade and the movement of goods and people. P. japonica threatens the entire agricultural sector, urban landscapes, and biodiversity in invaded areas.
Prevention of the species’ invasion faces two constraints: The possibilities to restrict the movement of goods and people are limited, and successful eradication of the population established south of the Italian-Suisse border is impossible.
Recently, EFSA and the JCR of the European commission have nominated P. japonica as a candidate high priority pest in the new EU Plant health Law. Against this background, it is paramount to develop measures, which help to confine the spread of the new pest and prevent the build-up of high population densities that cause economic loss to agricultural crops and increase migration pressure of the Japanese beetles.
The project IPM-Popillia develops these measures. It involves teams working in the core of the recent outbreak area, conducting fit-for-purpose practical research in a European environment that can be applied immediately, as short-term containment measures. In the longer-term, IPM-Popillia provides tools and advice on how to manage the pest on a larger, European continental scale, and on how to be better prepared for similar pest invasions in the future.
Main goals of IPM-Popilla
Research and development (R&D) activities of IPM-Popillia are organized in three interdisciplinary work packages, each with a set of specific objectives:
Identifying the Japanese beetles’ pathways of entry and spread
The objectives are to make detection and monitoring of the new pest faster, more efficient, and less labor-intensive, to provide an optimal surveillance strategy, to support EU policy on the management of high priority pests in general, by raising public awareness of emerging new pests.
Methods to achieve these objectives comprise, among others, monitoring trap development, phylogeographic studies, and an app-based citizen science approach.
Understanding the drivers of Japanese beetles’ population development
The objectives are to characterize abiotic factors and identify the most relevant groups of organisms associated with P. japonica, by comparing infested and non-infested areas of the same region, to understand the set of genes, which is involved in the pest’s response to these factors during an invasion process, and to investigate the effects of the soil microbiome and (micro)arthropod communities on establishment, persistence, and efficacy of biocontrol agents applied for pest control.
Methods involved include nuclear genome sequencing, transcriptome analysis, and classical and molecular studies on soil microbiome and (micro-)arthropod communities.
Providing an “IPM Toolbox” for Japanese beetle control
The objectives are to develop and deliver a range of sustainable biocontrol options for larvae of the Japanese beetle in grassland soils and potting substrate, and to develop attract-and kill and attract-and-infest strategies, and low-risk spray applications against adult Japanese beetles. Measures must be suitable for application at sites with low and high pest abundance, respectively.
Methods comprise the application of biocontrol agents like entomopathogenic bacteria, fungi, and nematodes, and attract-and-kill and attract-and-infest techniques.
Prompt knowledge transfer and implementation of the results obtained in these R&D work packages are of crucial importance, given the potential area at risk for P. japonica invasion. The objectives of the fourth work package of IPM-Popillia were developed to enable a timely reaction to the ongoing invasion:
Developing sustainable Japanese Beetle management in Europe
The objectives are to demonstrate the economic and socio-economic feasibility of the control measures against P. japonica, to design an integrated pest management strategy of the pest, and to disseminate the project’s results as customized information and policy advice for sustainable Japanese beetle management in Europe.
Methods comprise cost/benefit analyses, productivity and profitability analyses, as well as policy advice reports, farmers’ schools, and an interactive app and website.
Objectives to ensure a well-managed and productive project are comprised in the fifth work package of IPM-Popillia.
EU - H2020
Agroscopo (Swiss national competence centre for agro-ecology); University of Siena (UNISI); e-nema GmbH; PESSL Instruments GmbH (PESSL Instruments GmbH, located in Weiz, Austria); SPOTTERON Citizen Science Platform; Vignaioli Piemontesi S.C.A. (organization of wine producers in Italy); French National Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE); Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA); Technical University of Munich (TUM); Servizio fitosanitario della Sezione dell’agricoltura (SFTi); Regione Piemonte; Jardin Suisse Ticino; Fundacao Gaspar Frutuoso (FGF).