The aim of IPM-Popillia is to address the challenge of a new risk to plant health in Europe, the invasion of the Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica. This pest was introduced accidentally to mainland Europe in 2014 (EPPO 2014) and can easily spread in the course of trade and the movement of goods and people. P. japonica threatens the entire agricultural sector, urban landscapes, and biodiversity in invaded areas.
Prevention of the species’ invasion faces two constraints: The possibilities to restrict the movement of goods and people are limited, and successful eradication of the population established south of the Italian-Suisse border is impossible.
Sustainable agriculture and food security in Europe is threatened by invading pests in the course of trade and the movement of goods and people. Already for more than a century, the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) has been a major plant pest in the US. Only recently, it was introduced to Italy and continues to spread. The beetle is eager to feed on hundreds of ornamental plants, fruit trees, vegetable plants, forest trees and crop plants. The adult beetles are only active for a couple of weeks in the summer and their larvae live underground, which makes them difficult to eradicate.
The activities of IPM-Popillia will contribute to finding adequate responses to new and/or emerging plant pests/diseases. Although P. japonica appeared on the Azores already decades ago, it is a new pest to mainland Europe after the invasion of northern Italy in 2014. It has been nominated a candidate high priority pest in European Plant Health legislation. The innovative monitoring tools developed in IPM-Popillia will help to detect any natural spread or unintended transport of P. japonica from the infested zone to pest-free areas much faster than previously possible.