2014/01 SMARTER Task Force “Ophraella” kicks off to investigate the impact of a devastating beetle

Compilation pictures Ophraella Task Force Meeting1

The SMARTER Task Force “Ophraella” was initiated to monitor the spread as well as the ecological, health, and economic impact of a new potential biological control agent of ragweed in Europe. In 2013, the ragweed leaf beetle, Ophraella communa, was found in Europe (see press release and scientific paper). This beetle is being used to control ragweed on other continents. It was found to have established in an area of approximately 100 x 200 km south of the Alps in southern Switzerland and Northern Italy, where it has already reached outbreak densities. SMARTER has immediately taken this great opportunity to investigate whether its appearance should be considered a successful control strategy for ragweed, or an ecological risk for Europe. The Task Force “Ophraella” gathered for the first time in Fribourg, Switzerland in January 2014 to coordinate research activities in the Ophraella-infested area in the coming field season. The eleven participants are experts representing fields in plant biology, aerobiology, entomology, spatial ecology, and health, working in France, Italy, and Switzerland.