First report of Popillia japonica in Italy
The NPPO of Italy recently informed the EPPO Secretariat of the first record of Popillia japonica (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae, EPPO A1 List) on its territory. Until this report, the Japanese beetle was only known to occur at the ‘margins’ of the EPPO region, in the Azores (PT) and in Kunashir Island (Kurile Islands - Russian Far East). This is the first time that this polyphagous pest is recorded on the European mainland. In July 2014, a first picture of P. japonica was taken by a naturalist and posted on an entomologist’s forum (http://www.naturamediterraneo.com/forum). The identity of the pest was then confirmed on the basis of its morphological characteristics. The outbreak area is located along the river Ticino, within the Ticino Valley Natural Park. It is noted that two airports are located in the vicinity of this area. Two contiguous Italian regions, Lombardia and Piemonte are concerned by this outbreak. The pest was observed on wild plants (e.g. Rubus, Ulmus, Rosa, Populus, Vitis), as well as on soybean (Glycine max) crops. According to a paper by Pavesi (2014), P. japonica was observed over a 2 km stretch near Turbigo (Milano province), where approximately 180 beetles were collected mainly on Urtica and Rubus plants, and occasionally found on Robinia pseudoacacia. Numerous mating adults were also observed. The Italian NPPO stated that apart from some localized damage due to feeding activity of the adults, no significant damage has been observed in the affected area so far. Although the source of this outbreak is not known, the presence of two airports near the infested area suggests that airport activities might have played a role in the introduction of P. japonica. Official control measures are being taken to prevent any further spread of the pest. Traps have been put into place to determine the extent of the infestation, as well as for mass trapping purposes. Hand picking of beetles is also being carried out. Additional measures to be implemented during the next growing season are being evaluated.
The pest status of Popillia japonica in Italy is officially declared as: Present, subject to official control.
NPPO of Italy (2014-10).
Pavesi M (2014) Popillia japonica specie aliena invasiva segnalata in Lombardia. L’Informatore Agrario no. 32, 53-55.