Swiss landscapes would usually be rich in biodiversity. But due to highly concentrated agricultural practices, the number of regional insects and plants found is declining. The Federal Swiss government is taking action and has introduced a scheme to promote ecological compensation areas that will encourage naturally occurring species. As part of this, CABI is working on restoring regional biodiversity in the Swiss Jura through seed transfer methods.
The yellow-legged Asian hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax, was first detected in central Europe in 2004 and has since established in many countries on the continent. This hornet is a predator of honey bees and other insects, threatening honey production, pollination services and biodiversity. With Switzerland facing the imminent invasion by the hornet, CABI was commissioned by the Swiss government to help with the preparation for the threat and the control of the first arrivals. This project aims to establish a monitoring system for the early detection of the Asian hornet, determine control strategies and use climate modelling to predict where in Switzerland the insect might settle.
A new invasive pest of particular concern to Switzerland’s orchard industry is the Comstock mealybug, Pseudococcus comstocki. Originating from Asia, the Comstock mealybug was first detected in 2016 in fruit crops of the Swiss canton of Valais. Following its detection, the mealybug has caused significant local economic damage to apricot, pear and apple production, especially during 2018 and 2019. Chemical control is one way of helping to fight the pest but it has produced mixed, and often, insufficient results. Biological control is another method and this project, therefore, aims to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly, biological control method for the Comstock mealybug.
The spotted lanternfly is an Asian polyphagous pest that feeds on more than 70 plants by sucking the sap out of from leaves, stems and trunks. It was found in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since expanded its geographical distribution. The damage caused by the pest, its sugary excrement and sooty mold has been devastating for the Pennsylvania wine industry – reportedly causing a 90% grape loss.
Drosophila suzukii Matsumura (Diptera: Drosophilidae), a fruit fly from East Asia, is now a serious economic pest of soft fruits and berries across Europe, the Americas and North Africa. In this project we are focusing on finding natural enemies (parasitoids) of the pest to introduce into Europe. This involves surveys for parasitoids where it originated and experiments in quarantine in Switzerland to investigate their taxonomy, performance and specificity.