Task Force Ophraella met to coordinate field work (May 2015, Milano)

On the 8th of May, members of the Task Force Ophraella met at the Milano University Bicocca to coordinate all the field work to assess risks and benefits of the establishment of the ragweed leaf beetle Ophraella communa for the coming months. The 15 attendees from Italy, Switzerland and Slovakia agreed on protocols for new experiments, and all practical implementations including collaborative efforts. The Task Force can now confidently start the planned surveys, and the 13 experiments at 12 different locations of this summer.

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Task Force Ophraella finds beetle eggs on Ambrosia seedlings and exchanges results from 2014 (April 2015, Lugano, Switzerland)

The Task Force Ophraella met on 11 and 12 April 2015 in the area where the ragweed leaf beetle Ophraella communa has established. On a joint field trip in the Milano area, they found egg batches on seedlings of Ambrosia artemisiifolia. By sweep netting they collected female and male beetles, brought to the University of Fribourg to start a new rearing in the quarantaine facilities.

Next day, the Task Force was hosted by the Museum of Natural History in Lugano, Switzerland. Members exchanged results obtained in 2014, and the invited speaker Yuya Fukano from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology updated them about the status quo of the work on Ophraella communa in Japan. Several Task Force members initiated new collaborative experiments starting in 2015.

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WG1 meeting initiates coupled plant-insect population models (Sheffield, March 2015)

One of the aims of WG1 and the Task Force Ophraella is to assess the potential impact of candidate biocontrol agents of Ambrosia. We will do this by coupling demographic models of the biocontrol agents (insects) with those of the plant, developed by the Task Force Population Dynamics. Such a model would be of a high practical value to predict the interactions between both species and their spread over Europe.

To design the experiments needed to parameterise the models, several SMARTER members and modelling expert Yvonne Buckley met in March 2015 in Sheffield, UK, where they also presented the project in the symposium ‘Demography beyond the Population’, organized by the British Ecological Society (download the poster presentation  here).

We specifically discussed the case of the ragweed leaf beetle Ophraella communa, and its impact on Ambrosia artemisiifolia. We designed experiments that will be carried out in Northern Italy, starting in May 2015, and agreed on a STSM of Benno Augustinus (CABI, Switzerland) to Eelke Jongejans (Nijmegen, Netherlands) in April 2015.

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International Ragweed Day, 27 June 2015

Back in 2011, the General Assembly of the International Ragweed Society (IRS) proclaimed that The International Ragweed Day (IRD) will be held on the first Saturday of the summer in order to increase understanding and awareness of the problem this invasive weed causes all over the world. The day was chosen because it is early in the growing season of the plant, and thereby gives enough time for preparations and actions.

The next edition is scheduled for June 27th 2015.

→ More information on the website of the International Ragweed Society