The pine weevil (Hylobius abietis) is a pest insect that is estimated to cause tens of millions of pounds damage to the UK forestry. In particular the pine weevil can inflict severe damage on newly planted conifers species, such as common pine and spruce saplings. If there are high numbers of pine weevils in an area it can lead to the total destruction of newly planted saplings due to the feeding habits of the insects and heavy damage can completely strip sapling stems of bark. The primary host of pine weevil are pine saplings and conifers, such as spruce and larch. Tree stumps of felled trees provide are pine weevils preferred breeding grounds. Current control methods usually deployed to control the populations of pine weevils are based around the use of chemical pesticides which are expensive and have a major environmental impact due to their toxicity to humans and vital pollinating insects such as bees.
Scientists at Swansea University have invented a botanical based compound which can be applied to the breeding grounds of pine weevils that will attract and help eradicate the damages caused by these forestry pests. The compound has been designed to mimic the natural attractant composition of the conifers and differs from natural pine extract alone in order to attract weevils despite the background level of naturally occurring botanical based essential oils. The attractant may be placed within a trap to lure pine weevils inside. The attractant compound can be defused into polymer strings containing 5% of the active ingredient. The strings can then be wrapped around traps containing dry insect food for even better attraction or directly around saplings and tree stumps. Another method is to use the attractant to entice the pine weevil away from trees onto suitable decoy plants and then expose the insects to insecticides.
The attractant is based on a formula which consists of a mixture of α-pinene, β-pinene, 3-carene and myrcene. These are all naturally occurring organic compounds that are also found in hundreds of different types of foodstuffs and beverages.
The attractant is useful in detecting, monitoring or controlling the population of pine weevil and other beetle pests which cause severe losses of young conifer saplings, especially pine and spruce, which are vital crops in the forestry industry. It is also possible that the invention will be applicable to other insects and/or other pests.
A patent has been filed under PCT/20013/000546 by Swansea University