BIOLOGICAL PEST CONTROL OF INSECT PESTS THAT THREATEN TREE HEALTH

Lead Research Organisation: Forest Research
Department Name: Centre for Ecosystems Soc and Biosecur

Abstract

The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce has identified a number of insects that pose a threat to UK trees and recommended that the UK "Develop and implement procedures for preparedness and contingency planning to predict, monitor and control the spread of pests". They also identified detection and biological control as areas of tree health where there were considerable knowledge gaps.

BIPESCO is an interdisciplinary project that will develop entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) and botanicals to control insect pests that pose a threat to UK trees. Botanicals with attractant or repellent properties will be used alone or with EPF in novel "lure and kill" and "stress and kill" pest control strategies. Attractants will be used to improve pest monitoring and mass trapping.

BIPESCO is timely because new EU legislation encourages the use of natural products as environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional chemical pesticides, usage of which is being severely restricted (Directive 2009/128/EC). Demand for natural products is increasing, and will continue to increase. Thus, opportunity exists to develop these agents, and strategies that enhance their efficacy, to facilitate adoption in the market.

BIPESCO's specific aims are:
1. Identify strains of EPF pathogenic to current and emergent pest species.
2. Identify botanicals that attract or repel target pests.
3. Optimise synergy of EPF and botanicals for use in "lure and kill" and "stress and kill" strategies, and increase knowledge of mechanisms involved.
4. Validate efficacy of candidate EPF and botanicals in demonstration trials
5. Conduct risk assessments of products and strategies
6. Utilise data to determine socioeconomic benefits of products and strategies.

BIPESCO (Swansea University [SU; lead], Fera and Forest Research [FR]) have considerable experience in management of tree pests and development of new products and strategies to control them. SU has developed EPF and botanicals for pest control including the EPF Metarhizium anisopliae, which is effective in controlling pine weevil (PW) and black vine weevil. SU has identified several PW behaviour-modifying botanicals, and patented a PW attractant. SU will use its expertise to develop attractants and repellents for other pest species. Fera has experience working with emergent pest species such as oak processionary moth (a close relative of the pine processionary moth, PPM) and Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). Fera will evaluate EPF and botanicals provided by SU against PPM and ALB in state-of-the-art quarantine facilities. Together with SU, they will identify synergies between EPF and botanicals and elucidate how stressing compounds enhance EPF efficacy. FR has expertise in management and modelling of a range of forest pests and has developed systems that advise growers on when to use pesticides. Together with SU and Fera, FR will test selected products and strategies in forest systems. BIPESCO will also conduct risk assessments on products and strategies, and generate knowledge on their socio-economic benefits.

BIPESCO has the support of seven industry partners (Sentomol, Lisk & Jones, UPM, Maelor Nurseries, Neem Biotech, Fargro and Greenerpol), representing the supply chain. The support (worth £328,591) includes resources (e.g. materials, trial sites, labour) and advice, giving added value to the project.

BIPESCO's outputs (indicated in specific aims, above) will have considerable academic and commercial impact. They will benefit forestry, commercial nurseries, and local authorities (urban landscapes), and will lead to strong and on-going collaborations with pest control and related companies. The outputs will provide solutions to control of potential invasive pests such as ALB, in accord with the LWEC call. This project will provide products and strategies for a large and expanding pest control market currently worth $49 billion, but expected to reach $59 billion by 2016.

Technical Summary

BIPESCO aims to develop novel and environmentally friendly pest control products and strategies to improve the management of native and non-native (invasive) pest insects.

The main objectives are to:
1. Build on previous work demonstrating effective control with EPF (M.anisopliae and B.bassiana) and establish the best strains of these two species against four target pest species: Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), pine processionary moth (PPM), pine weevil (PW]) and black vine weevil (BVW).
2. Use these EPF and a range of plant-derived botanicals to kill specific target pests both alone and in combination to determine effective synergies
3. Develop the role of these BCA in co-ordinated management strategies to reduce impacts of pest species by 'lure and kill' and 'stress and kill' approaches
4. Develop portable, cost-effective equipment for improved detection of target pests
5. Demonstrate applied field-based control of known pest species
6. Reduce the reliance on insecticides in pest control.

The main methods to be adopted are:
1. Field work and laboratory based quarantine screening of BCA will be used to determine virulence and stability against ALB, PPM, PW and BVW, and to elucidate why insects are more susceptible to infection.
2. Field trials will be established to test the two most promising strains against two native model insects in forest (PW) and nursery environments (BVW)
3. The efficacy of current monitoring traps will be enhanced using botanical attractants which will also concentrate populations for increased EPF infection
4. New prototype traps will be developed to improve trapping rates and thereby local pest monitoring and population control in collaboration with industry partners.
5. Field site management will also be used to manipulate and concentrate insect pest populations to enable improved local targeting with BCAs thereby also increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

Planned Impact

Pest Control Of Insect Pests That Threaten Trees And Human Health (BIPESCO)
BIPESCO will develop entomopathogenic fungi and botanicals to control existing and emergent insect pests that are a problem in forests and tree nurseries, and those which are a threat to human health and the environment. Botanicals with attractant or repellent properties will be used alone or with fungi in novel "lure and kill" and "stress and kill" pest control strategies. In addition, BIPESCO will increase understanding of the underlying mechanisms for increased susceptibility of stressed insects to fungal infection and will influence future control strategies, in part because the agents can be used at reduced application rates and cost. The products and strategies developed within the project will offer an environmentally friendly, sustainable method of pest control in the short, medium and long term, benefiting many sectors both directly and indirectly.

Beneficiaries will include researchers, industry (biopesticide producers and users), government agencies, local authorities, public bodies, environmental groups and the general public. The forestry sector will benefit from having benign alternatives to chemicals that are being withdrawn for the control of pine weevil, the most destructive pest in conifer forests. Nurseries and the horticultural sector will benefit in having efficacious products and strategies for control of black vine weevil larvae in nursery stock. Pine processionary moth (PPM) and Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) pose major threats to UK pine and hardwoods, respectively. Benign control products and strategies for these pests would benefit countries where they are endemic but, should they enter the UK, as recently with ALB, could play a major role in their eradication. Effective control of PPM will benefit the forestry sector from economic losses and also forest users (workers and tourists) at risk from urticating hairs released by the larvae and harmful to human health. ALB has a wide host range and, if unchecked, would have a profound impact on urban landscapes (e.g. horsechestnut, cherry, plane, elm, poplar, maple), biofuel crops (e.g. willow), natural and managed woodlands (e.g. ash, beech, birch, alder) which, in turn, would impact on the wildlife in those ecosystems. Botanicals offer a relatively inexpensive method of killing pests inside galleries so could be used to treat suspect infested wood.

BIPESCO will add to the diminishing arsenal of products for pest control and enable growers to comply with EU legislation (EC Regulation 1107/2009 & Directive 2009/128/EC) that oblige member states to implement principles of integrated pest management (IPM) with priority to be given to benign, non-chemical methods of pest control. BIPESCO products and IPM strategies address this legislation and will increase the competitiveness of UK enterprises in strategic areas of pest control. BIPESCO products are safer than conventional pesticides and will protect and benefit the general public and wildlife. Other benefits to stakeholders include: helping foresters comply with Forest Stewardship Council's certification scheme, creating wealth and jobs in important bioscience sectors (knowledge based economy), and ensuring sustained collaboration between the industry and non-industry partners. Other companies in the supply chain (non-participants) will also benefit (e.g. producers of botanicals, biodegradable polymers for controlled release of attractants/repellents). BIPESCO focuses on pests which are of major socio-economic importance. The outputs will benefit the UK and many significant overseas markets through the development by the project consortium of fungal and botanical based products, focussing on the gap in the market for safe alternatives. These products will also create the opportunity to target several market sectors (multiple income streams) reflected by several companies and government agencies participating in the project.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 1. Attractant botanicals can be used to increase the efficiency of trap catches of the large pine weevil.
2. Repellant botanicals can lower the capture of the large pine weevil in pitfall traps.
3. Biocontrol agents can significantly lower the number of large pine weevils caught in traps.
4. Biocontrol agents can be used in the field to kill significant numbers of the large pine weevil.
5. Metarhizium (anisopliae) brunneum strains shown to be pathogenic to adult stages of pine weevil (PW).
6. Novel finding: Metarhizium mycelium but not conidia (infective unit) repels PW adults.
7. Lure and Kill strategy works for PW but there is a need to reduce dependency on billets (bulky, heavy, costly to deploy). New, lightweight traps have been developed with support from industry partners.
8. Attractants can be used to mass trap pine weevil (PW) adults or lure the pest to a control agent.
9. A new lightweight surface trap can be used as part of a lure and kill strategy, with attractants luring weevils into the trap, bringing them into contact with the fungus Metarhizium and resulting in high levels of infectivity of individuals entering the traps. Dissemination of biological control agents outside traps has been shown and auto-dissemination amongst PW adults in the wider environment is suspected.
Exploitation Route The traps that have been developed can now be used in the field to monitor populations and, hopefully, it will soon be possible to use them to predict the likelihood of plant damage for forestry pratitioners. They could also be used for auto-dissemination of bio-control agents to actively reduce damaging populations in the forest but some further research work will be required to evaluate their potential in this regard and approvals for use obtained before they can be used in this way.
Sectors Environment

 
Description Commercial strains of the insect pathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum (anisopliae), distributed in the UK by Fargro Ltd, have been shown to be highly pathogenic to Hylobius in the field. May lead to potential new markets and increased sales. Semiochemicals identified which could be used to improve pest (PW) monitoring or manipulate their behaviour to improve control. New traps have been developed which may open up new markets for industrial partners eg Sentomol.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Environment
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Improved forest industry understanding and management of the Hylobius problem
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Acceptance by forest managers and policymakers that insecticides are not the only way to reduce tree restocking losses from Hylobius feeding, that non-pesticide alternatives such as biological control agents and better monitoring of populations can play their part and that by taking up these options reductions in chemical usage and restocking success can still be achieved. A commitment by the forest industry for greater adoption of non-chemical alternatives for tree protection from Hylobius.
 
Title Hylobius multi-purpose surface trap 
Description A trap that can be placed on the ground to capture the large pine weevil (LPW) to monitor numbers, to catch large numbers of the insect and contain bio-control agents to function as a lure and kill bait station to reduce LPW populations. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact A better tool for asessing the size of Hylobius populations than currently available. May also be useful for testing the attraction of attractant and repellent compounds for use in LPW control strategies and as plant protection agents. The trap facilitates contact between Hylobius weevils and biocontrol agents and has been shown to result in high levels of infection by Metarhizium during the autumn of 2016. 
 
Title Hylobius pitfall trap 
Description Improved large pine weevil monitoring and/or trapping device 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact A better tool for asessing the size of Hylobius populations than currently available 
 
Title Laboratory arena for large pine weevil research: trap evaluation and compound testing. 
Description An indoor arena (2.4m x 2.4m) large enough to rapidly test designs for large pine weevil trapping and its behavioural responses to volatile compounds all year round. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The arena is allowing rapid testing of a range of trap types and trap modifications to improve efficiency of trapping rates for large pine weevil (LPW). It also enables year round testing of volatile compounds and blends under controlled conditions to determine their attractivity and repellency to LPW. 
 
Description Development of improved trapping systems for Hylobius monitoring and control 
Organisation Sentomol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Development of new trap designs and modifications in the laboratory and field testing to assess their efficacy as monitoring traps.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of a range of traps for modification and testing purposes. Input into design and development process.
Impact A new type of pitfall trap for use to monitor Hylobius populations on clearfelled forestry sites. A new multi-purpose surface trap which can be used to monitor, mass trap and, in conjunction with bio-agents, control populations has also been developed and tested under controllled conditions in the lab. The trap is also being used to enable the testing of attractant and repellent botanicals under controlled laboratory conditions. This will help determine the most promising botanicals/ compounds for increasing capture and/ or protecting forest trees, respectively. The trap was field tested during late summer 2016 and in conjunction with attractants provided good 'visitation' by adult weevils, high levels of 'throughput' and good levels of bio-control amongst individual weevils visiting the trap and coming into contact with bio-control agents.
Start Year 2015
 
Description 'FR BIPESCO- Hylobius' presentation given to Natural Resources Wales on 17/11/16 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A presentation on 'FR BIPESCO- Hylobius' given to Natural Resources Wales on 17/1/16 and subsequent discussions to update NRW on the current 'state-of-play' with Hylobius and the potential being demonstrated by biological agents to control Hylobius.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description 'Pests - Current research and horizon scanning', Forest Health Days, Scotland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A presentation on 'Pests - Current research and horizon scanning' at two forest industry, 'Forest Health Days' in Scotland which covered Hylobius work on the BIPESCO project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/beeh-ahpfyk
 
Description A presentation at the Royal Entomological Society Postgraduate Forum 2017, University of Sheffield 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A presentation was given on 'New Solutions for an Old Pest: Biological Control of the Large Pine Weevil' as part of the Royal Entomological Society Postgraduate Forum 2017 (2-3 Feb), University of Sheffield.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description A talk entitled "New Solutions for an Old Pest: Biological Control of the Large Pine Weevil (Hylobius abietis)" given at Royal Entomological Society Forest Insect Group Meeting, Fera, York, 25 April, 2017. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Stimulating increased interest in research and possible collaborations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description A talk was given that included BIPESCO Hylobius biocontrol research at Edinburgh Entomological Club (Edinburgh University), 21st February, 2018. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Stimulated interest in the research and in pursuing careers in research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description BIPESCO - An overview of recent FR Hylobius bio-control research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A presentation on 'BIPESCO - An overview of recent FR Hylobius bio-control research' was given at the Forest Research, Programme 2 Science Update Seminar, NRS, Edinburgh.

This was to provide an overview of the Hylobius work and results coming out of the BIPESCO programme to forest industry policy makers, funders and fellow research scientists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Forest Enterprise Scotland Planners & Programme Managers Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Forest Enterprise Scotland Planners & Programme Managers Meeting an update on Hylobius and current and future options for weevil control
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Forestry Commission Scotland Conservators visit to Forest Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation to Forestry Commission Conservators to outline current work and development research on Large Pine Weevil, Hylobius abietis
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Hylobius abietis research discussion project for FR's Business Development & Partnerships Autumn training/workshop, NRS 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A short presentation given on the Hylobius abietis research including as part of BIPESCO to FR's Business Development & Partnerships Autumn training/workshop, NRS.

The aim of this was to highlight the research and explore the possibility for further funding of this work and spin-outs, as well as use it as an example for discussions on other projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Hylobius, BIPESCO update to FREB 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An overview of the Hylobius work being undertaken on the BIPESCO program to the Forest Research Executive Board (members from all UK) at Forest Research, Northern Research Station.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Poster entitled "Entomopathogenic Fungus (Metarhizium brunneum, Met52®) interferes with Pine Weevil (Hylobius abietis) attraction to Billet Stacks in a Field Evaluation of a Lure-and-Kill control strategy" presented at International Symposium on Biopesticides Swansea University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Stimulating increased interest in the work
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.swansea.ac.uk/biosci/researchgroups/biocontrolandnaturalproductsgroup/banp/newsevents/sym...
 
Description Poster entitled "Developing effective 'lure and kill' strategies for biocontrol of the large pine weevil in conifer forests" presented by Moore et al. at Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (THAPBI) Dissemination Event, at Radisson-Blu Edwardian, London- 7 February, 2018. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact THABPI end of Project Dissemination event for stakeholders and funders with networking and dissemination of outcomes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Royal Scottish Forestry Society meeting at Forest Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation given on 'Recent developments and current work on Large Pine Weevil, Hylobius abietis'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk entitled 'A Tale of Two Beetles'- discussed the impact of Hylobius on Scottish forestry, our biocontrol research and current and potential management strategies". At Aberdeen and Dundee Entomological Club (James Hutton Institute), 14 November, 2017. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Stimulating Interest in research. Students interested in research careers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk entitled: "Managing the risk from Hylobius abietis: promising developments and future work"- included BIPESCO work was given at the Seminar: "Managing the risk from Hylobius", Birnam Arts Centre, Dunkeld, 17 August 2017. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Influenced restocking management policy by forestry practitioners for the management of large pine weevil, Hylobius abietis.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017