Insect pests recorded for the first time in Italy
The following insect species have recently been reported for the first time from Italy.
An unknown Aclees species damaging fig trees
In 2005, severe damage caused by an unusual weevil was noted on Ficus carica (fig tree) in the province of Pistoia, Toscana. The insect was first identified as Aclees cribratus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) but it is now thought that it belongs to another group of species originating from Asia whose taxonomy is still unclear. Observations made in the field showed that this Aclees species only attacked Ficus carica. Females lay eggs at the collar of the fig tree. Larvae feed on the wood at the base of the trunk, mostly under the soil surface. As a consequence of the destruction of the wood at the collar of the trees by the larvae, the aerial parts show growth reduction, yellowing, dieback and eventually tree death. Adults feed on the fig inflorescence and the wood of young twigs. In case of heavy infestation, they can also attack leaves and stalks. So far, the pest has been found in nurseries, family gardens and abandoned orchards. This is the first time that an Aclees species is reported in Italy and in Europe.
Lantanophaga pusillidactylus, a pest of lantanas
In Sicilia, Lantanophaga pusillidactylus (Lepidoptera: Pterophoridae) has been found for the first time on different parts of the island feeding on Lantana camara and L. montevidensis in urban areas (e.g. Acireale, Catania, Canizzarro, Furnari, Roccalumera, San Giovanni Bosco, Siracusa, Trappeto). Female moths lay eggs on the flower bracts and the larvae complete their life cycle feeding exclusively on various floral parts. L. pusillidactylus originates from the Americas and has been following its main host plant (L. camara) around the world. It now occurs wherever Lantana grows in the tropics and subtropics, including Africa, India, and Australia. In the EPPO region, it is reported to occur in Islas Canarias (Spain), Israel, Madeira (Portugal), and Morocco.
Phytoliriomyza jacarandae, a leafminer of jacarandas
During studies conducted in parks and botanical gardens in various Sicilian cities, several yellowing trees of Jacaranda mimosifolia were noticed. On closer examination, it was found that these trees were attacked by a leafminer which was identified as Phytoliriomyza jacarandae (Diptera: Agromyzidae). This pest was then also observed in Liguria, in Northern Italy. Young larvae produce short linear brown mines in the jacaranda leaflets, which then develop into irregular blotches. Affected leaves fall prematurely and larvae pupate in the soil. P. jacarandae is a South American species which is known to occur in Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and USA (Southern California). This is the first report of P. jacarandae in Italy and in Europe.
Bella S, Marchese G (2007) First record of Lantanophaga pusillidactylus (Walker, 1864) for the Italian fauna (Lepidoptera Pterophoridae). Bollettino di Zoologia Agraria e di Bachicoltura, Serie II, 39(1), 71-74.
Bella S, Mazzeo G, Süss L (2007) First record for the European fauna of Phytoliriomyza jacarandae Steyskal & Spencer, 1978 (Diptera Agromyzidae) leafminer of Jacaranda mimosifolia D. Don. (Bignoniaceae). Bollettino di Zoologia Agraria e di Bachicoltura, Serie II, 39(1), 75-78.
Ciampolini M, Regalin R, Farnesi I, Lorenzi C (2007) [First observations on the bioethology of Aclees sp. (Curculionidae, Molytinae) damaging Ficus carica L. in Italy]. Bollettino di Zoologia Agraria e di Bachicoltura, Serie II, 39(1), 51-60 (in Italian).