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by xfabre last modified 05-07-2006 16:52

Since its first detection in the early nineties in Serbia, the Western Corn Rootworm (Western Corn Rootworm (WCR, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) spread to more than 15 European  countries, also comprising 10 European member states in 2004. However, since the colonisation of Italy in 1998 near Venetia and Lombardia and south of Switzerland in 2000, the insect has been detected by isolated populations in France in 2002 and in Belgium, the Netherlands and England in 2003, respectively. Upon the same time, in the eastern European countries, the insect spread all around Serbia and invaded parts of Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia, Austria, Romania, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Ukraine, respectively. Nevertheless, a trap network has been set up in Veneto (Italy) in 1997 and in Western Europe in 1999. This network permitted to detect the first insects in Veneto (Italy) in 1997, France in 2002, Belgium, Great Britain and Netherlands (2003). The eradication/containment programs set in place in most of these countries prevented from a rapid population build up. In countries where these programs have not anticipated a rapid and discontinuous spread of WCR, populations above the economic threshold level are now already encountered in some of these situations. By this still ongoing process it became evident that this pest will invade Central Europe more rapidly than expected or modelled using pessimistic assumptions. The rapid spread of WCR together with the establishment of continuous populations will evidently result in severe problems to European high intensity maize production areas throughout Europe.

Within the 5th framework R&D EU-project entitled "Threat to European maize production by the invasive quarantine pest, Western Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera): a new sustainable crop management approach" several objectives with regard to ecological requirements and management strategies of this species in Europe have been evaluated in detail. However, although the FP 5 project DIABROTICA addressed several of the most urgent gaps in the knowledge of WCR in Europe, many administrative, socioeconomic, and ecological problems have not been properly addressed so far.

Results of the DIABROTICA project guided eradication/containment programs in Italy, France, and Great Britain, respectively, and also initiated further research interest on a national scale. Because of the new introduction situation in Western Europe and according to the results of this project and mainly on the eradication measures taken in Veneto region, the EU decided by October 24th 2003 (2003/766/EC) to harmonise emergency measures in case of introduction of WCR in non-infested maize areas of EU member states. Based on the results of this project and mainly on the eradication measures taken in Veneto region, the EU decided by October 24th 2003 (2003/766/EC) to harmonise emergency measures in case of detection of isolated populations of WCR in the EU member states

At the same time agroindustrial companies, such as BayerCropScience or Syngenta, started to evaluate specific insecticidal compounds, applied via seed coating, or directly to the soil, aimed at killing WCR larvae in the soil. Other research groups, together with SMEs evaluated the possibilities for control of WCR using biopesticides. Thus, several ongoing activities in the EU member states, started independently from each other or were fuelled by results of the DIABROTICA project. These activities aim at finding integrated solutions for the reducing of WCR populations below threshold levels. However, these activities are not yet coordinated in any way and there is an urgent need for harmonising and concentrating these activities both on a scientific and administrative level to establish a community-scale action and research plan.

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