24-01-2020

A team of researchers has detected a type of invasive beetle known as 'Xylosandrus compactus’ in Mallorca and it’s the first time it's ever been found in Spain or the Balearic Islands.

It’s an exotic species native to Asia and is included in the alert list of the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, or EPPO, according the the University of the Balearic Islands or UIB.

The beetle nests in the young branches of trees to house the symbiote fungi that the larvae feed on and infested trees wilt and eventually dry out completely.

Several specimens of the beetle were detected in a single ornamental carob tree, or ’Ceratonia siliqua' in a private garden in Calvià in November 2019 and a sample was sent to the Department of Biology at the UIB for analysis.

The UIB has asked the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Environment and Territory to work together try to establish preventative measures.

Technicians from the Balearic Plant Health Laboratory, or Losvib, the Forest Health Service and the UIB examined 100 metres of the affected tree and did not detected anymore specimens. The Losvib has also applied an endotherapy treatment to the tree and will follow-up every six months.

In September 2016, beetles from the 'ambrosía' group, ‘Xylosandrus compactus' and 'Xylosandrus crassiusculus’ were detected in the Ceirceo National Park in Italy; it was the first outbreak in a European natural ecosystem.

The 'Xylosandrus compactus' beetle has been documented in Campania, Tuscany and Liguria in Italy and in Sant Tropez, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and the Antibes Botanical Garden, in Villa Thuret in France.

The damage recorded in the Circeo National Park and the growing number of records along the Tyrrhenian coast has prompted the scientific community to study the expansion pathways and design early detection protocols, eradication measures and small-scale containment.

The Life Samfix project is responsible for carrying out specific actions of prevention, early warning and rapid response to stop its expansion in European natural parks, and details of that project can be found at www.lifesamfix.eu.

The General Sub-Directorate of Plant & Forest Health & Hygiene of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has been informed of the outbreak of 'Xylosandrus Compactus’ and details have been passed to the Commission.

The team that detected the beetle is made up of Montes Engineer Luis Núñez Vázquez; Biologist Josep Riba i Flinch; Alicante University Ecology Professor, Diego Gallego, Agricultural Technical Engineer, Álvaro Roca Santandreu, Applied Entomology Specialist, Claudia Comparini and UIB Biology Professor, María del Mar Leza.

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