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A small insect to save the chestnut groves of the Apennines

The Park promotes, with other institutions, a disinfestation campaign to save the centuries-old chestnut groves of the Apennines from the lethal Oriental Chestnut Gall Wasp

(Sassalbo, 03 Ago 11) The centuries-old chestnut groves, an icon of our Apennines, have always represented not only a natural heritage, but also an economic heritage. For centuries, wood has represented a source of sustenance and exchange between the hinterland and the coast, while chestnut flour has replaced wheat flour, especially during hard times. For this reason, the local communities living in the Apennines have been defending chestnut trees from dangers and parasites. The last lethal enemy is the so-called Oriental Chestnut Gall Wasp, which has to deal with Torymus sinesis, an insect exclusively attacking the larvae of this wasp, stopping its development.

Last year, the parasitoid was distributed experimentally on a limited number of chestnut trees in order to test its effectiveness and ability to adapt to the environment. The research activity was promoted by Appennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park, Gal Antico Frignano e Appennino Reggiano, the Phytosanitary Consortiums of Modena, Reggio, and Emilia Romagna. This year Torymus sinesis has been released in the chestnut tree groves of Vetto, Villa Minozzo, and Carpineti. And in Onfiano di Carpineti there was a meeting organized by Gal and by the Regional Phytosanitary Consortium, called "Nuove strategie di difesa per il controllo delle principali avversit del castagno: vespa cinese, cidie del castagno, cancro e mal dell'inchiostro" (New defensive strategies to control the main enemies of the chestnut tree: Oriental Chestnut Gall Wasp, Chestnut Tortix, chestnut blight, and ink disease).

Besides the Institutions and the President of the Park, Fausto Giovanelli, the meeting was attended by researches, experts in biological control, and chestnut tree growers. Thanks to scientific research and the collaboration between technicians and operators, it is possible that a damage like the one caused by the Oriental Chestnut Gall Wasp could lead to an economic benefit: as a matter of fact, since 2009 a chestnut grove in Carpineti has become a real "natural biofactory" where stocks of Torymus sinesis are selected and bred to be used as a "biological medicine" against the chestnut parasite.

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