Definitely not my ususal workweek!
I am an economist at the Technical University of Munich, usually sitting in an office with a computer and conducting research there. But not this time… As I am part of the IPM Popillia project, which consists of an interdisciplinary research team, I was invited by our partner Agroscope to join them in the field- literally. Without giving it too much thought I happly accepted the invite and set off to Italy.
Arriving in Piemonte with a lot of motivation and finding the location via GPS coordinates, I got a crash course on what equipment to use, how many holes we needed to dig per day, how to look for the infamous Japanese beetle larvae, etc. The task seemed easy at first but when trying to dig my first hole in the dry soil I already noticed that this might be harder than expected (and that I should have gone to the gym more often). But anyways, the holes needed to be dug and the larvae needed to be counted – no going back to my comfortable office life now.
After some time and with a lot of help from the Agroscope team, I got the hang of it and eventually found my first Japanese beetle larvae!
The days in the field were a great experience. I learned a lot about entomology and the research of my colleagues – not only from presentations and papers – but from real life and being able to see the hands on work behind the research.
In addition to joining the other researchers on the field, the trip to Italy was also used for our research at TUM. Simone Roverelli, our research assistant and I participated in a workshop on insect pests in vineyards, organized by our project partner Vignaioli Piemontesi, which also covered the Japanese beetle as a topic. We took this opportunity to present and to discuss our work and our upcoming survey for Italian grape wine producers. We also introduced our new IPM Popillia Citizen Science App, which can be used to record Japanese beetle sightings, thus contributing to generating data and helping us with our research.
Overall, the trip provided a great opportunity to discuss and to learn more about the Japanese beetle and it´s local impact! At this point, I would like to once again thank our partners from Agroscope and CREA for taking me with them in the field and also our partners Vignaioli Piemontesi and Regione Piemonte for inviting us to the workshop and providing us with a lot of knowledge about the Japanese beetle in viticulture.