Spain: Strawberries from Huelva face threat from new pest

The Phenolia limbata tibiales is the new enemy of strawberry producers in the province of Huelva; even though almost everyone already knows about it, not everyone has suffered or seen it.

Pablo Alvarado, technician at the Plant Health Laboratory of the Agency for Agricultural and Fisheries Management of the Government of Andalusia, has warned berry growers about the appearance of this beetle in the province of Huelva in April 2014, in the Isla Cristina area.

Alvarado took part in the first session of the technical conferences organised by Cooperativas Agroalimentarias of Huelva on "Integrated production and biological control in strawberries and other berries".

The alarm has not been sounded amongst producers because the insect's activity takes place mostly at the end of the strawberry harvest season, when many already consider the process complete, around the months of April-May.

Its appearance may go unnoticed at first, because the larva enters the strawberry fruit leaving barely a trace, although holes start appearing gradually.

The insect is of African origin and it is believed it arrived to Europe through Portugal because of the trail it left in the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores. In Huelva, it appears to have shown a predilection for strawberries.

In his presentation, Pablo Alvarado also spoke of other more famous pests in Huelva's berry production fields, such as the red spider, white spider, aphids or thrips, for which there are already several predators available.

The event was held in the form of an open debate, where the technician outlined the different methods and preventive measures growers can resort to in order to deal with these pests.

For their part, the technicians who participated in the session explained what they have done to tackle them, the measures taken to prevent them and the effectiveness of various methods depending on the area, the crop, etc.

This forum allows growers to exchange information and to hold discussions about the problems detected in applying biological methods in their fields.

It has become clear that some methods don't always yield the same results, and that the soil and weather conditions are a determining factor for their effectiveness.



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